Madurai

Coronavirus | Care for elders crucial now, say experts

The rise in number of COVID-19 fatalities in Madurai district has shed light on the need for caring for the elderly (above the age of 60) as this age group has accounted for 64.7% of all deaths as of Friday.

When fatalities of those in the 51-60 age bracket are taken into account, these two age groups together account for 80.4% of all deaths due to COVID-19 in the district. According to data obtained from the district administration, as of July 2, of the 2,156 active cases, only 328 are above the age of 60. It means the elderly population accounts for only 15% of the total number of active cases. However, the number of deaths is disproportionately high. Experts say caring for the elderly is crucial to bring the fatalities down.

There was a significant number of deaths last week in Madurai. Until May 31, only three deaths were reported - contributing to 5.9% of 51 fatalities that have occurred till date. June saw a rise in the number of cases. This month accounted for 94.1% of the total number of deaths.

Three-fourth of all deaths took place in one week - between June 27 and July 3. Of the 38 deaths that took place in this period, 24 were of those above the age of 60 and another six in the age group of 51 to 60.

Collector T. G. Vinay says care for the elderly has become a priority for the administration. The Corporation is taking a count of elderly people in the district. Health workers are noting down their co-morbidities. This exercise will be extended to peri-urban areas soon. “A majority of the elderly people have been given medicines for co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension. If we keep co-morbidities under check, we should be able to keep the risks to a minimum,” he says.

The elderly must avoid visiting public places. Families should keep a safe distance from the elderly in their house. “In case there are any symptoms, they must be isolated. Families must immediately contact the district administration as we have provided telephone numbers to them. It will help in expediting the treatment,” he says.

Senior Consultant and Geriatric Physician of Preethi Hospital N. Raja says those who can afford can get pulse oximeter, blood pressure apparatus and glucometer. This can help monitor oxygen saturation level which must not drop below 95%. “In case of a drop, they must be shifted to a hospital,” he says. One must improve immunity through a nutritious diet and vitamin C and zinc supplements.

“Apart from isolating elders who display symptoms, youngsters who have mild symptoms must keep away from them and show restraint while interacting. This process is called reverse cocooning. We observe that children and grandchildren who move out of an isolated home environment often become carriers of the disease,” he says.

He adds that elders must not step out to buy essentials. “It is better if they use the aid of youngsters or reach out to government authorities in case they need to purchase condiments and other essentials,” he says.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 9:17:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/coronavirus-care-for-elders-crucial-now-say-experts/article31986089.ece

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