Coronavirus: How people 50+ can prepare.

What is the risk of coronavirus for our community? We are living better and longer than ever before, but we are still our age.

Because of the unique risks to people our age, I felt it was important to lay out exactly how I feel about coronavirus and what I am doing. There is a lot of ink being spilled today and a lot of time being devoted to the airwaves on this subject, but exactly what does it mean for our community? Is this all a giant hoax to keep me glued to CNN? Listen in below and let us know your thoughts, what you are doing.

We are living better and longer than ever before, but we are still our age. This is a bit of a conundrum when facing CDC recommendations. If I am 61, in very good health, how worried should I be? On the one hand, I have the strength and endurance of someone 20 years younger, on the other hand my immune system is 61.

People are comparing this to the seasonal flu, which is not a good comparison for several reasons. There is a vaccine for the flu; it’s not perfect, but it is helpful. There is no known effective treatment for COVID-19; not everyone becomes acutely ill, but those who do are in trouble. See below an age comparison of the seasonal flu to COVID-19. This chart is out of China, and because they were functioning under extreme duress we should take this data as referential only. We like the Chinese data because they have the most cases, even if, initially, they did not do such a great job of reporting. Even if it is way off the mark, it is still worth considering.

This graphic below was produced last week for the American Hospital Association on what they are expecting as far as an impact. This may or may not be a self-interested presentation of data on the part of the association. There is very little accurate information out there with a virus so new, so take this chart with a grain of salt. Hospitals do tend to function close to maximum capacity, and this time of year they are filled with existing seasonal flu cases. A COVID-19 outbreak would be on top of what they are already handling. This swamping of the health care system is what led Italy to take the extreme measures it did.

Below are the breakdowns by gender and a pre-existing condition. Again, not a tremendous amount of data is available, but we can see that women tend to do better than men. The lower chart is the important one. The greatest category of risk is NO PRE-CONDITION AT ALL. That means that of course having a chronic health issue makes it worse, but being healthy is not a free pass against the virus.


The Epidemiological Characteristics of an Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Diseases (COVID-19) – China CCDC, February 17 2020

  1. Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) [Pdf] – World Health Organization, Feb. 28, 2020


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David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.


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