How COVID-19 will impact seniors long term
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated information regarding the long-term effects of COVID-19 by the middle of November 2020. The organization states they are actively working on learning more about the whole range of short and long-term health effects associated with the virus. Typically, most people who contract the virus recover and return to normal health. However, some patients have had symptoms that can last for weeks or even months after recovery.
Multi-year studies are underway to investigate further, yet some commonly reported long-term symptoms are fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, intermittent fever, and muscle pain. The more serious long-term complications identified include inflammation of the heart muscle, lung function, kidney injury, smell and taste problems, brain damage, and mood changes.
The pandemic has caused significant challenges for various socio-demographic groups across the United States. However, older adults and especially those with underlying medical conditions are the hardest hit age group. Yet, much is still unknown about the permanent long-term impact after someone has contracted the virus, but some studies point to reoccurring health problems. Overall, the consensus among most medical professionals is that symptoms can sometimes persist for months.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the virus is seen as a disease that primarily affects the lungs; however, it can damage other organs. Imaging tests of the heart have shown lasting damage to the heart muscle. Medical professionals believe this may increase the risk of heart failure or other heart complications in the future. The type of pneumonia associated with the virus can cause long-standing damage. COVID-19 has been linked to causing strokes and may also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, according to the Mayo Clinic.
An article published by the Harvard Health Blog talks about how COVID-19 damages the brain, causing major and subtle cognitive effects and even long-term cognitive effects. The Doctor concludes in the article that from the various studies, COVID infection frequently leads to brain damage due to lack of oxygen, particularly in those over the age of 70. Within some cases, the brain damage is obvious, yet, more frequently, the damage is mild but leads to cognitive difficulties later in life.
Dementia researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio note it is becoming clear that the damage done by COVID-19 will have chronic consequences. However, the question remains as to what degree and under what form. Most large medical centers are opening specialized clinics to provide care for people who have persistent symptoms or related illnesses after recovery.
Additionally, more international studies are needed to accurately determine the long-term implications. Yet, much of the early evidence points to the same issues among the elderly who have survived the virus. Vaccines are beginning to roll out throughout the country, and over 22 million shots have been given to Americans at the time this article was written. Globally, over 65 million doses in 56 countries have been administered. Within the United States, an average of 1.16 million doses per day was administered as of January 24, 2021.
Bloomberg cites that across the United States, 6.8 doses have been administered for every 100 people, and 54 percent of the shots delivered to states have been administered. Overall, the risk of long-term effects from the virus increases with age, as pointed out by ECDOL, and as you get older, the risk of being hospitalized for the virus increases. Most medical professionals agree that the long-term implications are real and must continue to be monitored to ensure proper care is given to elderly Americans that survived the virus.
Marcel Gemme has dedicated his life to helping others find help and focuses his attention on helping individuals find long-term senior care through his website, ECDOL.org, for Excellent Care, Decency, and Optimal Living.