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Several patients had to be admitted to the hospital after getting the coronavirus. And after recovery, several patients still witness challenges in hanging up clothes once the laundry is done. These people find it challenging to raise their arms, lift the clothes and even arrange the items inside the closet. Fatigue and short breath are common after-effects of the virus. Some very older adults can usually walk a very small distance using a cane after recovery. Additionally, many have lost weight after the virus attack and have developed general weakness.

Terry Bell, at 70, is one of the several older adults who got affected by the virus and is currently witnessing the long covid symptoms. It is surprising to notice that this age group has received very minimal attention, despite the fact that the World Health Organization has mentioned that this section is likely to suffer more once affected by the virus.

Understanding Long Covid

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that long covid indicates new or ongoing health issues that take place at least four to five weeks after a patient witnessed COVID infection. This condition seems to have left the medical community a tad bit baffled. Till date, there isn’t any diagnostic test for affirming it. One can only look at common symptoms like elevated heart rate, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, and short breath as some of the issues that might prolong for a while. Some elderly people also witnessed sleep disruptions and a general sense of anxiety round the clock.

The end-to-end inflammation or the disturbance in the immune system can be accountable for this. The virus also creates residual damage, small blood clots, and damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and various other organs. According to MyBioSource, there have been 182 million cases of COVID infection globally, where people have also suffered the long covid symptoms.

The impact on the older adults

It is now that the impact of the virus on older adults are getting noted and documented. According to a study that got published in BMJ, the researchers had evaluated that close to 32% of the older adults in the United States who recovered from COVID witnessed specific symptoms that surfaced after four months of the infection. The age bracket included anyone between 18 and 64 years.

That is not all. The BMJ study assessed over 87,000 adults and other older people who suffered from the virus attack in 2020. The study comprised of all the symptoms that lasted for 21 days or more post the infection, for a short span of time, which was termed as the long covid infection. The data here includes both the older adults who got hospitalized having suffered from the virus and ones who didn’t as well.

According to a study that the CDC conducted sometime back revealed that 1 out of 4 older adults or senior citizens suffering from COVID witnessed at least 1 or 26 symptoms linked with long COVID. The age bracket remains to be between 16 and 84.

The increased percentage of post-covid symptoms in older adults usually results from increased physical vulnerability and other chronic ailments. All these have resulted in severe illness, hospitalization, and death during the pandemic. Ken Cohen, the co-author of Optum Care, asserts that the older adults on an average, are less resilient. It means that they lack the capacity to bounce back from any severe ailment. When the older adults get affected by long covid, it is evident that the results will be challenging. It will lead to disability and will make them incapable of carrying out daily chores. As a result, they will have a very poor quality of life.

The challenge to identify the symptoms

Doctors have realized that for many older adults, it becomes challenging to identify the long covid symptoms. According to Charles Thomas Alexander Semelka, who is involved with geriatric medicine and is also a postdoctoral fellow of Wake Forest University, older adults can be a tough case study for long covid symptoms. It is because the non-specific symptoms such as the confusion, fatigue, pain, weakness, and frailty are a few things that are already present in older adults with some or the other ailments. Few people consider it to be a part of aging and that is where all the confusion starts.

Older adults who got diagnosed with COVID at the age of 72 and recovered fast with very minimal doctor visits might have a problem after a month or two. They may witness problems with their speech, attention, and memory. Some older adults have also complained about extreme fatigue and sleep issues. Even though these conditions might improve with time, they can expect the fatigue and the cognitive problems to persist. Therefore, the solution is not to take any after-COVID weaknesses lightly and to seek the correct medication and treatment.