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Covid-19 Teaching Among the Elderly Essay

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Updated: Jun 16th, 2022

Covid-19 has affected the healthcare systems worldwide, and the situation is worsening with the increasing number of infections reported daily. Governments and private facilities are overwhelmed with a surging number of positive cases as health practitioners on the frontline of defense are being infected. Practitioners who have contracted the virus cannot attend to patients creating further shortages. The global scarcity of medical equipment and physical protective equipment (PPEs) undermines the fight against coronavirus, especially in developing countries (Burki, 2020). People with underlying conditions who depend on regular medications cannot access health services, further deteriorating their physical and mental health. The situation is even worse among the old-aged groups above 60 years. At 60 years and over, the body’s immune system is weaker, and coupled with some preexisting conditions that are rampant among older adults, their ability to fight infectious diseases such as covid-19 is undermined (Duplaga et al., 2016). Although all age groups are at risk of contracting covid-19, the older population has a significant danger of developing severe illness if they become infected due to their aging physiological changes.

Health promotion has become an integral part of life for all people regardless of their age, gender, or social group. However, health education is critical among the elderly population since this age group is highly vulnerable to diseases and other health-threatening conditions. In some countries, older people are subjected to counseling and health education to help them cope with different situations. However, the demands for such services have significantly increased due to the vast spread of covid-19. There is no approved medication for coronavirus. The information regarding prevention measures is conveyed via media platforms such as radio, television, and social media platforms that older people rarely access (Nadikattu, 2020). The combination of global panic and lack of awareness of coronavirus significantly complicates the process of educating people.

Therefore, educating older people on containment measures, remaining safe, coronavirus symptoms, and how they should handle themselves when they contract the virus would be crucial. Social distancing and other measures that restrict older people from socializing with their loved ones have affected their psychological well-being. Initiating community counseling groups in which older people can virtually share their experiences during lockdowns could make a considerable difference (Diamond et al., 2020). Indeed, older people need to be educated on all the facets of healthcare services. There are currently no sufficient theoretical frameworks or research that have been developed to give more insight into covid-19. No research has been done on the importance of teaching covid-19 to the elderly population. In this paper, available publications on covid-19 will be reviewed against other pieces of literature on health promotion to develop a theoretical framework and methodology for a research topic, “Covid-19 Teaching Among the Elderly.”

As stated in the United Nations’ policy brief on the impact of covid-19 on older persons, the pandemic causes fear and suffering among the elderly globally. Over 200,000 people 60 years of age had died of covid-19 by April 2020, with a fatality rate for over 80 years of age being five times the global average (United Nations, 2020). The continuous surge in infections would overwhelm their inadequate facilities and social protection systems, especially in developing countries. Preliminary reports have shown mortality rates for older persons could rise even higher (Vandoros, 2020). The contributions of older people to society cannot be overlooked. They reinforce resilience and positivity among younger generations as they play their roles as caregivers, volunteers, or community leaders. This pandemic has, however, exposed their vulnerability. If efforts of health workers, caregivers, and family members of older people are not channeled appropriately in ensuring their wellbeing, the old generation may be wiped out. Young people must recognize the full diversity within older persons and do what is necessary to preserve their rights and dignity (Buka, 2017). Enlightening the elderly in the community on covid-19 could be a starting point.

Experts have reported that people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, lung, and heart problems are at risk of succumbing to covid-19. Persons 60 years and over are at significant risk of severe illness and a higher mortality rate. An estimation shows that 66% of people aged 70 and above have at least one preexisting condition, putting their lives at risk of a severe impact from coronavirus (Hillier & Barrow, 2016). Reports show even pre-covid-19, health inequalities were being witnessed with older people facing age discrimination, especially regarding medical care, and life-saving therapies. The virus has further given such biases a platform to thrive. Critical conditions that are unrelated to covid-19 that affect older persons have been scaled down in most facilities to pave way for coronavirus patients.

In some cases, decisions have been made to remove older persons from life-supporting machines without their consent. Younger generations are favored and are given extra care, while the elders are left to die (Kagwa et al., 2017). Whenever a younger patient and an elder show the need to be admitted to a life-support machine, the younger person gets the first chance. Such age discrimination is further increasing the risks to older people’s lives; hence, the need for health promotion and education among them.

In developing countries, older people’s accessibility to healthcare services is not guaranteed due to weak healthcare requiring out-of-pocket expenditure. Most people who are the elderly have been left without access to primary care. Older persons with disabilities and underlying conditions such as diabetes, cancer, HIV, and high blood pressure further experience marginalization. Decisions on using medical resources, including ventilators, are made based on age, life expectancy, or chances of survival. Most of these aspects do not favor the elderly, and in most cases, their lives are put at risk (Stern & Klein, 2020). The need to embrace triage protocols where medical decisions are made based on medical conditions, ethics and scientific evidence is essential. Everyone should be allowed to give consent to medical treatment. Cases in which patients, especially older people, are coerced to sign do-not-resuscitate orders before treatment are unfortunate and can only be avoided through educating people on healthcare services (Su et al., 2016). Family members and communities from which older people live should be educated on the importance of palliative care and rehabilitation too.

Access to care and support for the elderly has been met with inequalities as those who require routine home-based visits and community care have not had their needs met even pre-covid-19. These medical care arrangements are further facing risks of disruption due to covid-19 protocols, which restrict people from moving (Dutta et al., 2020). In essence, access to essential care and support by the older people who require long-term care would continue to face disruption.

Horrifying trends of older people in care facilities dying of covid-19 or other conditions have been witnessed worldwide. Over 4,260 residents of residential care facilities were reported to have succumbed in March alone in Madrid (Yamamoto & Bauer, 2020). A similar trend was witnessed in France, with nearly 7,500 residents of care homes dying of covid-19 by April 2020. The number of older people from care homes who are dying of covid-19 is making up almost a third of all coronavirus deaths in France (Kremer, 2020). Similar distressing reports are emerging from the United States of America, with one in every five deaths occurring in nursing homes (Renne et al., 2020). Research has indicated most deaths among older people occur in high concentrations communities where people live in close quarters.

Due to lockdowns, older people are experiencing neglect and mistreatment. Some distressing reports indicate some older adults in quarantine and isolation facilities experience violence, abuse, and neglect. Due to overcrowding, inaccessibility of healthcare services, and lack of essential supplies such as water and other basic amenities, the lives of older people who are in prisons, concentration camps, and other informal settlements feel threatened (Hernandez-Suarez et al., 2020). Sanitation facilities are inadequate as well as challenges in accessing humanitarian assistance. Special attention is required in terms of contingency plans to address these increasing threats older people are continuing to face in refugee camps and other settings where overcrowding of people is being experienced. Older people with underlying conditions and those serving their prison terms should be released or given alternative detentions to reduce the risks of infections (Brennan, 2020). Such options would only be explored by older people when they have enough information regarding the covid-19 pandemic.

Owing to shortages of healthcare personnel, some governments have requested health professionals who had retired to go back to work to support overburdened facilities. Encouraging older persons to be in the frontline defense against the pandemic has further exposed them to the virus. Some of these retired health professionals are older women who have resorted to providing care to children and their close relatives. Their health and wellbeing should be assessed before they are engaged in healthcare facilities where infections are surging. Despite most of these older people being poor and lacking incomes, any decision made on their behalf should be well informed to avoid risks (Martín-Rodríguez, 2020). Therefore, the elderly need to be taught based on the healthcare practitioners’ perspectives on the dangers of the virus to make informed decisions that do not expose them to danger.

The coronavirus pandemic is threatening the socioeconomic well-being of older people adversely. Their inability to access health services is endangering their mental health. Many older people do not access digital information, meaning that they become idle whenever they are exposed to prolonged periods of isolation. This group of people is also subjected to harsh economic times, especially women who usually engage in domestic chores. Social protections have been applauded for providing safety nets to the elderly in the community. However, with most economies struggling financially, social protections such as pensions have been scaled down (Sutcliffe, 2020). In developing countries, over 80% of older persons live below the poverty line. Many of them depend on paid work, personal savings, pensions, and support from family members. However, due to the challenging economic times the world is grappling with because of the effects of covid-19, most of them are finding it hard to survive (Han et al., 2020). Indeed, this economic downturn has led to a disproportionate impact on older people. Educating older persons on the effects of covid-19 can encourage them to engage in income-generating activities, boosting their social and economic wellbeing.

Older women above 60 years of age make up 65% of retired people and do not have regular income or pensions. Access to social security and other protection measures have not been forthcoming (Natali, 2020). For the women who are living in extreme poverty, rates of unemployment and underemployment are higher. The situation is even worse among older women with disabilities and other limitations. Governments worldwide are working hard to implement universal health coverage to address the health needs of their people. Such initiatives cannot be achieved without addressing the needs of older people. This is because older people’s health is at higher risk compared to other groups due to their vulnerability. The number of older persons is projected to double up to 1.5 billion people in the next three decades (Pothisiri & Teerawichitchainan, 2019). As such, the health risks experienced by the elderly are expected to rise. Health promotion based on research and education of older people should begin to avoid further risks in the future.

Health promotion among older people needs to be carried out by health experts themselves to respond to the issues affecting them positively. Health practitioners should ensure all difficult healthcare decisions are guided by the principle of human dignity and rights. Older people have equal rights the same as people from other age groups, as such, they should be involved while decisions affecting their lives are made. Restriction measures have led to increased violence incidences against older persons (Shree Pant, 2020). In 2017, it was estimated that one out of six older persons is exposed to abuse. This number is expected to rise during this period of covid-19 due to restrictions on movements.

Additionally, older persons, especially women, depending on their family members for survival and care. Such a higher dependency level is further exposing them to abuse as some of their providers take advantage of them (Olding et al., 2020). Unfortunately, some countries lack adequate legislation that can protect older persons’ rights from discrimination, exclusion, violence, and abuse (Goel, 2015). This inadequacy has contributed to the scanty response to the covid-19 crisis by the older people. Therefore, they should be educated on their rights and biases, such as age discrimination, violence, and abuse.

Reinforcing physical distancing protocol reduces the rate of covid-19 infections; however, experts should strengthen social inclusion and solidarity at the same time. Health protocols such as stay-at-home restrictions, quarantines, and lockdowns have been applauded for controlling the spread of the virus and keeping people safe. These measures, however, should be implemented with the welfare of older persons in mind. Experts and authorities should ensure older people are not subjected to social isolation, which could jeopardize their health outcomes.

A section of the older population depends on home and community services to survive. Such services should be allowed to continue with proper precautions taken into consideration to reduce the chances of infections (Osawa et al., 2020). Efforts by authorities and well-wishers who volunteer and contribute towards the food and other needs of older people should be encouraged and expanded. Escalation of ageism by younger generations in terms of age discrimination and stigmatizations should be discouraged. It has been vastly reported that the older population is vulnerable to covid-19. Some youths have stigmatized the whole scenario by spreading rumors suggesting that persons aged 60 and over cannot survive the virus if they become infected (Bagcchi, 2020). Such sentiments have caused panic among the older population; hence, the need to carry out health promotion.

Social support measures and targeted care for elderly persons should be established. They should be educated on the usage of digital technologies so that they remain informed similar to other age groups. The use of the internet and other digital technologies has become crucial. They have opened a window where people can communicate with their friends and families. However, older persons enjoy limited access and lack the necessary skills to exploit these digital technologies. Global estimates indicate almost one-half of the population worldwide has internet access, yet the older population remains disproportionately offline (Petracca et al., 2020). For instance, over 4.2 million people aged 65 and above have no internet in the United Kingdom. This number could be higher in developing countries where social inequalities are rampant. Those in social institutions find it difficult to connect with their loved ones, further worsening their well-being.

Barriers in terms of literacy, language, visual and hearing impairment among the older population are being intensified during the covid-19 crisis. Digital exclusion is impeding older persons’ access to essential health information regarding coronavirus. They should be educated on using digital technologies such as video chat, laptops, and smartphones to remain connected (Petracca et al., 2020). Older people with hearing challenges can be shown how to use apps that provide captions. The continuous connection between older persons with their loved ones can be achieved by making regular telephone calls, writing notes, sending cards to lift their spirits. Spending time with older people while showing them old photos which remind them of the past could bring happy memories. These photos can be saved on digital devices, and more aging populations shown how to use and access them.

As stated by the United Nations, older people need to be integrated fully in socioeconomic and humanitarian response following the devastating impacts of covid-19. The needs of vulnerable people should be addressed in both the crisis and recovery phases. Some countries have established economic stimulus programs for citizens by cutting back taxes and allocating financial aid to the vulnerable. Older people should be incorporated into such initiatives to boost their social and economic wellbeing, which can only be possible when health promotion is carried out. Participation of older persons should be encouraged during health education to ensure they become part of health solutions (Simkhada et al., 2020). Age-specific data has proven to be crucial whenever health solutions are being sorted. The data should be specific to give a clear picture of which age group is most affected by the pandemic. Data on older persons should be disaggregated to show how different people are affected by covid-19. Challenges affecting more senior people in home-based care and those institutionalized should be identified separately so that targeted responses can be established.

Currently, most data collected on older persons merely show homogenous groups and such have been insignificance, especially with different needs. For instance, reports on covid-19 fatalities show broad age groups. Some reports show deaths among persons 60+ years instead of breaking down the groups regarding age, sex, disability, and preexisting conditions. Such broad groupings are making it difficult to accurately differentiate the risks older populations face (Kawahara et al., 2020). Arbitrary cut-offs are demonstrated in research and surveys as older people are excluded from such exercises. For instance, most surveys highlight the prevalence of violence against women of middle and lower ages while showing little data on older women. These trends have made it challenging to identify the more aging population’s problems and incorporate them into the policies. Therefore, health promotion and education for older persons need to be carried out in partnership with civil society and health practitioners to bring in older persons’ voices, harness their knowledge, and ensure their free, active and meaningful participation.

In conclusion, the need to teach the older population about the covid-19 pandemic cannot be overlooked. The number of infections is surging, and the healthcare systems are being overwhelmed. Health practitioners are getting infected at a higher rate, making it difficult for them to attend to the vast majority’s health care needs. Global covid-19 infections currently stand at 61 million and deaths of 1.4 million, with fatality rates for those over 80 years of age being five times the global average. The number is expected to rise among the older population due to their vulnerability to infectious diseases and other health-threatening conditions. The social and economic well-being of older persons is facing a drastic decline due to the impacts of covid-19. Those institutionalized in different facilities are neglected by their loved ones as restrictions measures are being followed. Lack of regular incomes due to unemployment, especially among older women, forces them to depend on family members and the community who sometimes violate their rights. Reports of violence, abuse, and neglect are rampant among older women.

Therefore, the need to conduct health promotion and education among the older population on the covid-19 is becoming critical. Older people need to be educated on coping with psychological challenges being presented by the effects of covid-19. Some publications and literature highlight the need to show older persons how to operate digital technologies to enable them to access and share information regarding the pandemic. This generation also needs to be educated on their rights to respond appropriately whenever they feel discriminated against, violated, or abused. They should be well informed on the healthcare services to enable them to make better decisions affecting their lives.

Health promotions should be carried out, highlighting the need to treat everyone equally. When deciding on which kind of care to offer patients, ethics, medical conditions, and scientific evidence should be the basis and not age. The barriers and health limitations older people face can only be reduced if elaborate education programs are initiated to inform them on how to handle themselves and what decisions they need to make. Conducting covid-19 teaching in the older populations would be of great importance. Researching this topic would add knowledge and literature in the healthcare industry that can be used to improve others’ lives.

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