Older Adults and High-Risk Patients

Although COVID-19 is new, experts know that older adults and those with underlying medical conditions are being more severely affected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those who are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill include:

  • Older adults
  • People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Lung disease

People with Disabilities

The CDC has identified that some people with disabilities are at high risk of COVID-19. Read more about how COVID-19 affects the following people.

  • People who have limited mobility or who cannot avoid coming into close contact with others who may be infected, such as direct support providers and family members
  • People who have trouble understanding information or practicing preventive measures, such as hand washing and social distancing
  • People who may not be able to communicate symptoms of illness

Emergency Warning Signs

    If you develop these emergency warning signs, the CDC recommends seeking immediate medical attention.
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

Take Extra Precautions

Those who are at higher risk from COVID-19 should follow the CDC recommendations to help avoid becoming sick. For more information, visit the CDC website.

  • Follow all the same precautions suggested for everyone, including hand washing, using hand sanitizer, and disinfecting frequently used items.
  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • Have supplies on hand, including medications and groceries.
  • Have a plan in case you do get sick, including deciding on a caregiver, if necessary.

Checklist for Those at High-Risk

The CDC has developed a checklist for older adults and those with underlying medical conditions that put them at greater risk of getting sick. The list includes:

  • How to protect yourself
  • How to prepare in case you get sick
  • What to do if there is an outbreak in your community
  • How caregivers can prepare

If You Have Symptoms of COVID-19

If you are concerned you have been exposed or have symptoms of COVID-19, click the COVID-19 Help tab on the bottom of the page. This will bring up our COVID-19 symptom checker that will lead you through some questions to determine if you need medical follow-up. You can also call your primary care provider. Review COVID-19 testing options on this page. 

UNC Health has a very limited supply of monoclonal antibody treatment medications right now. The fastest way to see if treatment is available or if you are eligible is to call your primary care physician. 

Call 911 or seek immediate treatment if your COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent chest pain and/or pressure
  • A fever >104 degrees Fahrenheit that isn’t improving with over-the-counter fever reducing medication
  • Persistent vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Confusion they weren’t experiencing before
  • An inability to get up
  • A blue tint to your lips and/or face

High-Risk Patients: CDC Recommendations

Video: What Older Adults Need to Know