LATE BREAKING NEWS: As this article was being prepared, Washington Governor Jay Inslee ordered major restrictions on visits to nursing homes and care facilities. Except in end of life situations, long-term care residents will be limited to one visitor per day. These new rules affect some 55,000 state residents living in care facilities, according to the Seattle Times.
Then on March 11th the governor restricted all gatherings of 250 people or more. Like you, we at AgingOptions are following this rapidly-developing story.
It’s hard to believe how quickly the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has come to dominate the news and affect our collective behavior. Most of us have seen the reports of panic buying of toilet paper and bottled water. Many of us have been personally affected by the virus, even if we’re not sick and don’t know anyone who is: family gatherings delayed, church services cancelled, and co-workers staying away from the office.
CDC Guidance for Seniors Focuses on Self-Quarantine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised seniors and other vulnerable adults to respond to COVID-19 by self-quarantine, staying home as much as possible. In this CNN article from last week, reporter Elizabeth Cohen explains the CDC’s advice. We also consulted a few other sources to attempt to gauge what the implications are and what might be next in this constantly changing story.
“Amid a coronavirus outbreak in the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging older people and people with severe chronic medical conditions to ‘stay at home as much as possible,’” Cohen writes. That warning was posted here on a dedicated CDC website on March 5th. The recommendation is based on data suggesting that older people are twice as likely as their younger peers to have serious illness from the coronavirus. CNN also reports that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is going to be making efforts at targeted outreach to seniors to persuade them to take the CDC’s advice seriously.
CDC Guidance Extends to Recreation, Entertainment, Travel, Even Family Gatherings
The CDC’s recommendation, CNN reports, came as top infectious disease experts began advising people over 60 to “strongly consider avoiding activities that involve large crowds.” One Vanderbilt University professor who advises the CDC, Dr. William Schaffner, said seniors and others with underlying medical problems “should consider avoiding activities such as traveling by airplane, going to movie theaters, attending family events, shopping at crowded malls, and going to religious services.” This change in daily habits should be a top priority. “The single most important thing you can do to avoid the virus is reduce your face to face contact with people,” Schaffner said.
Another disease expert, Minnesota epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, told CNN that the moment for drastic action has arrived. “I think clearly the time has come to take these steps,” he said. Schaffner and Osterholm, both over 60, have taken precautions to safeguard themselves. They shop in the evening when stores are uncrowded. They have quit attending some social gatherings and canceled some air travel plans.
CDC Guidance for Seniors is Echoed by Other Government Agencies
Other government agencies are sounding similar alarms. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told CNN in a March 8th interview, “We now know more about who is at risk. Average age of death for people from coronavirus is 80. Average age of people who need medical attention is age 60. We want people who are older, people who have medical conditions, to take steps to protect themselves, including avoiding crowded spaces, including thinking very carefully about whether or not now is the time to get on that cruise ship, whether now is the time to take that long haul flight.”
Adams added, “For most people you’re going to be fine. But if you have medical conditions, or you’re older, now is the time to rethink that.”
Rajiv’s Reminder: Comprehensive Planning Has Never Been More Essential
Rajiv Nagaich of AgingOptions wants us all to bear in mind that the threat of COVID-19, as worrisome as it may be, will eventually pass – but will we learn the vitally important lesson that this episode teaches us? “The coronavirus has disrupted our lives unbelievably,” says Rajiv. “Everyone you and I know is affected, either directly or indirectly. But think about it: when this is all over, which it will be sooner or later, most people will tragically slip right back into their bad habits of complacency when it comes to planning for the future. I urge you not to be one of them.”
Rajiv sounds a note of urgency. “How many more crises will it take before people get the message?” he asks. “The time to get serious about planning is now.”
Through his radio program, his private practice, and his popular LifePlanning Seminars, Rajiv has spent nearly two decades developing a comprehensive retirement planning strategy called LifePlanning. “When you think about your future,” he says, “don’t make the mistake of thinking that a good financial plan or the right health insurance is all you need. LifePlanning brings all the critical elements – finances, legal protection, health insurance, a housing plan, even relationships with your loved ones – together in one integrated strategy. For retirement peace of mind, there’s nothing else like it.”
When you’re ready to learn more, we offer free LifePlanning Seminars throughout the region. Our calendar of seminars is being updated continually. We encourage you to visit our Live Events page for further details and online registration. Meanwhile, stay safe, and “Age on.”
(originally reported at www.cnn.com and other sources)