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.

Group of older adults
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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.

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

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.