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Mar 18, 2020

It’s the best time to discuss coronavirus as the whole world is practically affected by it. And as you may have heard from the news, older adults are more susceptible to the virus. In this episode, we will share with you some of the best practices and how we can protect ourselves, most especially the elderly. 

Part One of Coronavirus and Older Adults 

What are the Common Symptoms of Coronavirus? 

  • Coughing 
  • Shortness of Breath   
  • Fever – A fever in an adult aged 65 and older means having a temperature of 99.6°F (for younger adults, a temperature of 100.4°F is considered a fever). 

One thing to keep in mind is that older adults may not have a high fever but will have other symptoms that make them feel or act like they are “not right”. In geriatrics, this is called an atypical presentation of illness. What you may see are things like a change in their ability to think, a change in their ability to do things, not eating, feeling very tired, or falling. If an older adult has these symptoms plus a cough or trouble breathing, please call your health care provider immediately whether the person has a “fever” or not.

“Treat the symptoms of coronavirus if they develop. Antiboitics are not given for viral illnesses” — Melissa Batchelor (00:19 - 00:23)

A lot of people were asking if antibiotics will work. The answer is NO. Again, coronavirus is a virus. Taking antibiotics will not make you any better from the coronavirus symptoms but would help if you develop a secondary bacterial infection. What you need is to treat your symptoms. You can take Tylenol, drink fluids, get enough rest, and let your immune system do its job to recover. 

Part Two of Coronavirus and Older Adults 

Older people are at higher risk, and you have probably heard the same from the news. But why is that so? 

One reason is that as we age, our immune system changes, and it can’t launch as strong a response to an illness as a younger adult could. 

Another reason is a lack of access to accurate information can contribute to this as well, most especially if they are living on their own. Many older adults are not on social media and may not have access to the internet to look up information on their own. 

Another reason why they are more vulnerable is that they may not have the ability to get to a healthcare provider whenever they are sick. 

Lastly, their family members or caregivers might be sick, and they could easily pass the disease.  Since recording the podcast, we now know that people without symptoms can also spread the coronavirus, so limit face-to-face interactions with older adults as much as possible. Keep in touch via telephone or video calls, and bring groceries and supplies to them so they don’t have to go out if at all possible.

“But obviously, the older you are, the greater your risk.” —  Melissa Batchelor (02:39 - 02:41)

The question now is, what do we need to protect them? 

Make sure that they have an ample supply of their prescription medication(s). You should help them to get at least a month's supply. It's also ideal to get over-the-counter medications to fight off symptoms and to have groceries in the house as well. 

Some people also wonder if wearing gloves can help protect you from getting the coronavirus. Again, the answer is NO. Washing your hands is more effective. And if you are going to wear gloves, make sure that you change it every time you have an interaction. Otherwise, you might inadvertently spread the virus too. 

If you want to know more information about coronavirus, please check credible sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) website. 

How to Get Involved

Melissa B earned her Master of Science in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON) in 2000. She enjoyed working with the complex medical needs older adults experienced more than any other population, so after graduation, she started working with a geriatric practice in Wilmington, North Carolina. She worked full-time for five years as FNP in geriatric primary care across many long-term care settings (skilled nursing homes, assisted living, home, and office visits). She transitioned into academic nursing in 2005, joining the faculty at UNCW SON as a lecturer. She has maintained her clinical practice and board certification, while her primary roles have been as a Nurse Scientist and Nurse Educator. Find out more about her work at


Information contained in this podcast is based on COVID-19 information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. Please check these websites for any updated information as new information emerges.