Older Adults

Older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for severe illness. COVID-19 is a new disease and we are learning more about it every day.

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What you can do
  • Stay home.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid close contact (6 feet, which is about two arm lengths) with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched services.
  • Avoid all cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • Call your healthcare professional if you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition or if you are sick.
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Stress and coping

Older people are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 which may result in increased stress during a crisis.

Fear and anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.

Things you can do to support yourself:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
  • If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call
    • 911
    • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517)
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Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

Watch for fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

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Information for People with Loved Ones in Senior Living Facilities

People with loved ones in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other types of senior living facilities may be understandably concerned about their loved one’s risk of illness from COVID-19. To protect these vulnerable friends and family members, CDC has advised that long-term care facilities restrict visitors, regularly check healthcare workers and residents for fevers and symptoms, and limit activities within the facility to keep residents safe.

8 out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years old and older

8 of 10 deaths are in adults 65+

Among adults with confirmed COVID-19 reported in the U.S.:

  • Estimated percent requiring hospitalization
    • 31-70% of adults 85 years old and older
    • 31-59% of adults 65-84 years old
  • Estimated percent requiring admission to intensive care unit
    • 6-29% of adults 85 years old and older
    • 11-31% of adults 65-84 years old
  • Estimated percent who died
    • 10-27% of adults 85 years old and older
    • 4-11% of adults 65-84 years old

Develop a Care Plan

Community spread of COVID-19 is increasing throughout the United States, and older adults are at higher risk of severe illness and even death associated with this disease. Following CDC recommended guidance on how to avoid getting sick and what to do in case you get sick is an important step in remaining healthy and helping slow the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, 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. Many care plans include a summary of your health conditions, medications, healthcare providers, emergency contacts, and end-of-life care options (for example, advance directives). People complete their care plans in consultation with their doctor, and if needed, with help from a family member or home nurse aide. Download a fillable care plan formpdf icon.

Developing a care plan now can have benefits beyond the current pandemic. You can update your care plan every year, or any time you have a change in your health or medications to keep the care plan current. Care plans can reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and improve overall medical management for people with a chronic health condition, resulting in better quality of life.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, having a care plan is an important part of emergency preparedness. See guidance on how to develop your emergency preparedness care plan.

More information

COVID-19: What older adults need to know

Jay Butler, Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases at CDC, describes preventative measures to help protect older adults from COVID-19.

AARP's coronavirus information tele-town hall

Experts share information about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself.

CDC and other federal experts presented at an AARP tele-town hall event held on March 10, 2020 discussing prevention and care for older adults.