Bearing the brunt of covid-19: older people in low and middle income countries

Updated: Mar 17

It has been recently published an editorial on the BMJ addressing different concerns of the impact of Corona virus on LMICs settings. The editorial can be accessed here: https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m1052


The piece highlights the need to understand and address policy-related issues faced by older people during this outbreak.


The first is the changing family dynamics and the caregiving roles provided by older people, which adds risk of exposure for older people as it makes it impossible for them to self-quarantine.


A second concern is that increasing numbers of very old people are now being cared for in nursing homes or similar facilities in LMICs. These homes are often unregulated and provide care that is of very poor quality.


A third problem is the ability of health systems to cope with surges in demand, especially for those needing respiratory support, a disproportionate number of whom are likely to be older. Health systems in LMICs face severe constraints on capacity at normal times and are unlikely to be able to offer the care needed, especially if the precarious staffing levels— already depleted by migration, low salaries, and poor working conditions—and limited gerontological expertise are reduced further by illness.


A fourth issue relates to the inclusion of older people in developing responses. Social distancing policies must consider the already precarious existence of many older people, particularly those living alone or dependent on others for care and support. These older people may face barriers to obtaining food and other essential supplies if quarantine conditions become more widespread.

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