COVID-19 Guidance for Older Adults

Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

COVID-19 Vaccines in Older Adults Reduce Deaths, Hospital Visits, and Number of Cases

As of May 1, 2021, 82% of adults aged 65 and older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The number of COVID-19 cases, emergency department visits, hospital admissions, and deaths declined more in older adults, who had higher vaccination coverage, than in younger adults, who had lower coverage. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 8, 2021.

Graphic showing COVID-19 vaccinations are effective at reducing risk of hospitalizations
When You've Been Fully Vaccinated

If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing many things that you had stopped doing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colorful illustration of family having a backyard barbecue, 2 happy children, a dog, mom with lemonade pitcher, dad at grill
COVID-19 Vaccines Significantly Reduce Risk for Hospitalization in Older Adults

Adults 65 and older who received both doses of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines showed a 94% reduced risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization. An evaluation was conducted at 24 hospitals in 14 states under real-world conditions, January – March 2021. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, April 28, 2021. 

Graphic showing COVID-19 vaccinations are effective at reducing risk of hospitalizations
COVID-19 Guidance for Adult Day Service Center Staff, Participants, and Their Caregivers

Adult Day Service Centers (ADSCs), also known as adults day services or adult day care, provide social or health services to adults 65 and older living in communities and to adults of any age living with disability. CDC has developed guidance for administrators, staff, and volunteers at these centers. Participants (adults who attend adult day service centers) and their caregivers can also take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones by helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at ADSC facilities and at home.

Older man sitting in wheelchair wearing a facemask in a brightly lit hallway
COVID-19 Key Points for Adult Day Service Center Administrators and Staff

Adult Day Service Centers (ADSCs) administrators and staff can help protect themselves and program participants (that is, adults attending ADSCs) from COVID-19 by promoting and engaging in preventive behaviors that reduce spread and maintain healthy operations and environments at ADSC facilities.

Older woman wearing face mask
What Older Adults Need to Know about COVID-19 Vaccines

The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age. This is why CDC recommends that adults 65 years and older are one of the first groups to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is an important step to help prevent getting sick from COVID-19.

Colorful illustration of a person sitting at a desk talking with another person over a computer
COVID-19 Cases Among Nursing Home Residents and Staff Mirror Community Spread

Rates of COVID-19 among nursing home residents and staff members increased during June and July 2020 and again in November. Trends in reported cases of COVID-19 cases among nursing home residents and staff members were similar to trends in incidence of COVID-19 in surrounding communities. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, January 9, 20121.

Older masked woman with nurse
How Are You Feeling Right Now?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are often asked, “How are you feeling?” but this has been a difficult time lately, and emotions can be complex. Whatever you’re feeling right now, starting a conversation with friends, neighbors, and loved ones about your concerns can relieve stress and promote resilience. Learn how to start the conversation, find tools, resources, and inspiration all provided by the CDC Foundation, HowRightNow.orgexternal icon

Masked mother and daughter talking through glass

The risk for severe illness with COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk. Severe illness means that a person diagnosed with COVID-19 may require hospitalization, intensive care, a ventilator to help them breathe, or may even die. Here’s how to reduce your risk and what to do if you get sick.

Image of older man outside in the fall wearing a facemask
1 in 11 Patients Who Were Hospitalized for COVID-19 Were Readmitted

An analysis of more than 106,000 patients who survived COVID-19 showed that 9% (9,504) were readmitted to the same hospital within 2 months of discharge, according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Nov. 9, 2020. The odds of hospital readmission increased with age and the presence of 5 chronic health conditions: COPD, heart failure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and obesity.

Colorful graphic showing 4 circles of a man in chair; images of heart/lungs; hospital; nursing home shown beside text
Older Adults Die More Frequently from COVID-19

An analysis of more than 114,000 COVID-19 associated deaths during May – August 2020, found that 78% of the people who died were aged 65 and older, and 53% were male; 51% were White, 24% were Hispanic, and nearly 19% were Black. COVID-19 remains a major public health concern regardless of age or race and ethnicity. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Oct. 16, 2020.


Colorful graphic of green line drawings of the COVID-19 spiked cell
Adults Delay Medical Care Due to COVID-19 Concerns

An estimated 41% of U.S. adults reported avoiding medical care because of concerns about COVID-19, including 12% who avoided urgent or emergency care, and 32% who avoided routine care. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, people who experience a medical emergency should seek medical care without delay. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Sept. 11, 2020

Colorful graphic with 6 circles: a person in wheelchair, braille book, a hearing aid, heart, lung, and blood sugar monitor
Considerations for Owners and Operators of Multifamily Housing

The following guidance is provided to help owners, administrators, and operators of multifamily housing work together with residents, staff, and public health officials to create a safe living environment and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

School Decision Making Tool for Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers

Parents and guardians should consider whether other household members are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, including older adults and those with underlying health conditions, when making decisions about which activities to resume. This tool is designed to help weigh the risks and benefits of available educational options.

Tribal Communities

American Indian/Alaska Native communities with multi-generational households or those in rural or tribal areas may experience unique challenges with social distancing, access to grocery stores, water, and local and tribal health services. Here are several steps individuals can take to keep your home and family safe.

Develop a Care Plan

Developing a care plan is vital during this crucial time in our country. A care plan is a form that summarizes a person’s health conditions and current treatments.

Disability Groups and Risk

Some people with disabilities might be at a higher risk of infection or severe illness from COVID-19. Find out who may be at risk and how to protect yourself.

Shared Housing for Residents

For people living in apartments, condominiums, student or faculty housing, national and state park staff housing, transitional housing, and domestic violence and abuse shelters.

Shared Housing for Owners

This guidance was created to help owners, administrators, or operators of shared (also called “congregate”) housing facilities – working together with residents, staff, and public health officials – prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Considerations for Memory Care Units in Long-term Care Facilities

At least half of older adults living in long-term care facilities have cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. The first step in caring for people living with dementia in any setting is to understand that changes in behavior (e.g., increased agitation, confusion, sudden sadness) or worsening symptoms of dementia should be evaluated because they can be an indication of worsening stress and anxiety as well as COVID-19 or other infections.

Guidance for Caregivers of People Living with Dementia in Community Settings

Given the risks that older adults face from both COVID-19 and dementia, CDC is providing this additional guidance to caregivers of adults with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to help them manage their patients’ physical and mental wellbeing as well as their own wellbeing.

COVID-19 Risk of Hospitalization If You Have These Health Conditions

Chronic health conditions such as diabetes increases your risk of being hospitalized from COVID-19. For more information, see COVID-19 Associated Hospitalization Related to Underlying Medical Conditions.


Risk of hospitalizations for people with chronic health conditions
Key Strategies for Long-term Care Facilities

COVID-19 cases have been reported in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and multiple U.S. territories; many having wide-spread community transmission. Given the high risk of spread once COVID-19 enters a long-term care facility (LTCF), facilities must act immediately to protect residents, families, and staff from serious illness, complications, and death.

Communication Resources

Videos in American Sign Language

COVID-19 guidance is available in American Sign Language on the CDC YouTube Channel. 20 videos are currently posted.

COVID-19 Hospitalization and Death by Age

As you get older, your risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19 increases.

COVID-19 Infographic illustrating hospitalization and death by age
Digital Resources
After choir practice with one symptomatic person 87% of a group developed COVID-19
COVID-19 Spreads Easily (Article)
What you can do if you are at Higher Risk of Severe Illness from COVID-19
What You Can do if You are at Higher Risk (PDF - 744 KB)
8 out of 10 Deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years and older
8 out of 10 Deaths (Image)
AARP's Coronavirus Information Tele-Town Hall
AARP's Coronavirus Information Tele-Town Hall (Video)
Managing Anxiety and Stress
COVID 19: Managing Anxiety and Stress (Video)