Older Adults and Individuals with Weakened Immune Systems

In general, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age. Those above age 70 years of age, those with compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions are most at risk. Knowing the facts about COVID-19 and how to prevent it can reduce the spread of infection to you and the people around you.

Prevention measures

It is important to take preventative measures to avoid all types of respiratory infections, including influenza:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Maintain a 2 metre (six foot) distance from those who you don’t live with 
  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces and when physical distancing is hard.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands. Wash hands after coughing and sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently.
  • Monitor your health. If you feel unwell, stay home.
  • Avoid contact with people who are ill.

Prepare and plan

It is important to take care of yourself and prepare:

  • Know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. These may be different depending on your age. Some people may have mild or no symptoms. For older adults, some may have non-specific symptoms such as confusion, feeling disorientated, sleeping more than usual, muscle aches, dizziness, weakness, falls, chills or headaches.
  • Stay in touch with others by phone, text or video chats. If you do meet up with others, outdoor gatherings are safer (go for a walk, play golf or tennis, sit on the front porch). Save hugs for people in your social circle only. Keep a 2 metre (6 foot) distance from people not in your social circle.
  • Wear a face covering or mask if visiting others indoors.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Ask friends, family or neighbours to get essential items such as groceries for you.
  • Continue with regular healthcare routines, such as taking medicine or attending appointments, as advised by your family doctor or healthcare provider.
  • Make a plan with family, friends, neighbours and others outlining what to do if you become sick.
  • Keep up to date on COVID-19 through reputable sources.

Reduce your risk

  • Consider limiting your trips to public places.
    • Use online banking, curbside pickup or online orders, when possible.
    • Stock up on essential supplies such as cleaning products, toiletries or pet food.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19. Stay home if you are feeling unwell, and avoid close contact with others.
  • Download the COVID Alert app to be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
  • When going out, bring a face covering/mask, a bag for your used mask, tissue or wipes, and hand sanitizer.
  • Learn how to wear a mask safely. Change your mask when it is moist or dirty.
  • Limit interactions with people outside of your household.
  • Meet with others outdoors and for shorter amounts of time.
  • If possible, avoid crowded spaces and prolonged closed contact with others.
  • Stay active. Go out for fresh air and physical activity.
  • Open windows for sunlight and good air flow.
  • Limit or avoid smoking, consumption of drugs and alcohol.

Additional resources