Understanding and Addressing Older Adults’ Needs During COVID-19
Four months have passed since the World Health Organization (WHO) identified coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as a public health emergency, and 3 months since it declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic. WHO posted guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID- 19, including isolating those with the virus, quarantining those exposed to the virus, and social distancing. These guidelines have been adopted across the globe, and there is evidence that following these guidelines slows transmission of the disease. Some have suggested that cases have reached a plateau, yet these conclusions are based on data drawn from reports of identified cases, which are not necessarily representative of all cases of COVID-19. This is problematic for designing guidelines and policies that are intended to protect the health of the entire population and the health of those who may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, including older adults. The pandemic has created difficulties for all, so we must be thoughtful about our pathway for returning to a life that is not threatened by COVID-19. Guidelines and policies for charting that pathway should be based on high-quality data, scientific knowledge, and ethical decision making.