How to use available information to help OP-COVID 19
Coronavirus COVID-19 causes a new kind of respiratory infection that poses a specific risk for older persons. Initial research in China, based on 44,000 confirmed COVID-19 infection cases showed the mortality rate of 2.3% for general population, increasing to 8% population for over 70 and almost 15% for population of 80 and over.
This pandemic can be managed if people take protection measures but also if the act in solidarity and protect those who are at the highest risk.
Older persons are at a higher risk of severe effects of the COVID-19 infection due to weaker immune systems and chronical conditions they have but also due to the issue of accessibility of information.
Accessibility of information
There are older persons at risk due to limited access to information that they need. Special attention should be paid to:
- Older persons living alone without support provided by family or relatives;
- Older persons of lower socioeconomic status;
- Older persons living in remote rural areas;
- Older persons living alone and having diminished eyesight and hearing;
- Older persons with cognitive issues;
- Functionally dependent older persons living alone and having received services from healthcare and social welfare institutions
- Older Roma persons and older persons from ethnic minorities who live alone.
It is necessary to use local communities to reach all older persons and inform them about the risks and necessary protection measures and this information needs to be adapted to older persons with cognitive impairments too.
It is best to contact older persons via telephone or to convey the information during volunteer visits, by volunteers who bring them food, medicines and other necessary items.
Families and friends of older persons need to be encouraged and repeatedly reminded to regularly talk to them on the telephone and to teach them to use communication applications.
Information should be:
- Accessible, accurate and clear;
- Using simple language;
- Written in large, readable font;
- Both visual and written;
- Coming from several trusted sources, including official information provided by Ministry of Health, health institutions, crisis headquarters, especially in order to prevent impulsive behavior like purchasing of ineffective medication or disinfectants, to prevent panic and increase the sense of safety;
- Clear about the facts about the epidemic and the progress of efforts to manage it, what measures are taken, where the work on the development of the vaccine currently is;
- About which efficient measures and strategies there are for older persons to protect themselves from infection – this information should be repeated the most;
- About what the recommendations are to protect physical and mental health in isolation.
Older persons need clear information and instructions on service providers as to prevent fraud, theft and financial abuse.