Friday’s webcast focuses on older adults and COVID-19

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Senior Guidance via Flickr

The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe has been particularly fatal to older adults. Outbreaks in long-term care facilities like the one in Kirkland, Wash., drive home the extreme vulnerability of our nation’s elders.

The CDC’s March 28 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) looked specifically at severe outcomes in older adults from COVID-19. The first preliminary reports from China found fatality rate was highest among patients over 60, particularly among those with underlying conditions; the rate was as high as 27% for those 85 and older. In the U.S., CDC data found “80% of deaths associated with COVID-19 were among adults aged ≥65 years with the highest percentage of severe outcomes among persons aged ≥85 years.”

This comprehensive story from Stat looks at the various factors contributing to this high mortality rate — it’s not just age. However, age is certainly among the biggest risk factors. Multiple outbreaks have been reported in senior care facilities nationwide. This JAMA article  describes nursing homes as “ground zero” for coronavirus outbreaks. As of March 30, more than 400 such facilities have reported cases. This number will certainly rise significantly as the virus spreads across the country.

A recent article in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society noted, “it is not surprising that older adults residing in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) have the greatest susceptibility to COVID-19, as well as the poorest outcomes from this infection.” It’s imperative to ensure that COVID-19 is accurately and quickly diagnosed in the older population, especially in LTCFs, according to the authors. The article summarizes current information and evidence and highlights the need for health professionals working in geriatrics and long-term care to understand the “ABCDs” of the COVID-19 crisis:

How to foster awareness of key clinical differences for older adults.

  • How to initiate quick, appropriate behaviors to manage infections, particularly in long-term care.
  • How to begin COVID-19 containment and maximize preventive interventions (especially in long-term care)
  • How to empower health care leaders, policymakers, and government agencies to make decisions that address rapid access and results of testing and treatment, as well as the costs and societal impacts of the pandemic.
Joseph G. Ouslander

Joseph G. Ouslander

Article co-author Joseph Ouslander, M.D., professor of geriatric medicine, Florida Atlantic University and executive editor of the  Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, will join us for a webcast on Friday, April 10 at noon ET, to discuss the specifics of COVID-19 among older adults, including risks, diagnosis, containment, and treatment. He will provide a brief update with the latest data, but mostly wants to hear from journalists — what questions do you have about reporting on this issue? What do you need to know and what are you having difficulty finding out?

Submit your questions in advance with this form. You also will have the chance to submit additional questions during the webcast.

1 thought on “Friday’s webcast focuses on older adults and COVID-19

  1. James Dudley Blair

    I started on my third book “ELDERCARE: The Coming Storm” four years ago. I was an energetic Eighty-three at that time. My understanding of the aging process during the following four years transcends two decades of research on the subject. Fourteen years ago as a frisky seventy-two, as a member of the American Society For Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM), as a participant in the 2006 Monograph “Perspectives On Advanced Directives”, I was asked to speculate on “FUTURE PERSPECTIVE”.
    FUTURE PERSPECTIVE
    The 21st century promises to an aging population a new era of
    healthy living and longevity. Improved lifestyles, effective advances
    in pharmaceuticals and technological advances in diagnosis and
    treatment is the future.
    Accompanying these expectations are foreseeable conditions
    that may very well affect the realization of this potential. The extraordinary
    growth in elder populations is expected to stress an
    already stretched health care system. Financing and servicing this
    growing demand will require some hard public-policy decisionmaking.
    Regulatory agencies may mandate strict compliance with
    physician-provided counseling on available patient choices dealing
    with advance directives, as well as other end of life and like procedures.
    The growing prospect of an ever-increasing hostile health care
    workplace; emerging infectious diseases, pandemics, lethal terrorist
    attacks, drug-resistant pathogens, and more robust natural disasters
    will add unknown variables to future legal and ethical life and death decisions. (too close for comfort) Stay Safe. James “Jim” Blair, DPA, MHA, FACHE

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