The first two corona virus death in Singapore are seniors. One is a 75 years old woman. The other is a 64 years old man. The woman has a history of chronic heart disease and hypertension.
People over the age of 80 years are most vulnerable. For those over 80, approximately 15% of those infected will die.
Data from China suggested that older people are at a higher risk of getting sick from this virus. Those with chronic illness, such as heart diseases, diabetes, lung disease, are also at a higher risk.
In Italy which has one of the world’s oldest population, the average age of patients who died is 81 years old. Of the 105 death, only two are below the age of 50.
Why are seniors most affected by the virus? Here are four reasons.
Reason 1: Immune System Declines With Age
The older we become, the less white blood cells we have. We have less infection fighters in our ‘army’. It is harder to fight off infections. That is why seniors are more susceptible to illness.
Reason 2: Pre-Existing Conditions
As of 4 March 2020, of the 105 patients who died in Italy, two-thirds had three or more pre-existing conditions. The most common ones were hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.
A study on China by The Lancet found that nearly half of the 191 hospitalised patients had other underlying illnesses.
Chronic illnesses degrade the organs, leaving them vulnerable to infection.
Diabetes depresses the immune function and makes it harder to fight off viral infections.
Seniors who smoke or are exposed to polluted air are vulnerable. It can lead to severe pneumonia.
Reason 3: Communal Living
Old folks who live in a community such as a nursing home are at a higher risk. When one person is infected, it will spread rapidly to the rest like wildfire because of the close proximity.
At the Life Care Centre in Kirkland, Washington, COVID-19 infected 50 residents and killed 23 patients.
Reason 4: Isolation
Old folks are more isolated from the community than other age groups. Some have mobility challenges, so they remain at home most of the time. If anything happens to them, nobody knows. They may not have easy access to the help they need.
Some live in poverty. Some are hoarders. The condition in their home are unlivable. They may not be eating nutritious food.
How can they not be vulnerable when they are unable to take care of themselves?
As seniors are the most vulnerable, they need the most care. They deserve our utmost care. For now, one of the best measures is self-isolation. Minimise social contact.