The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is changing the landscape of our daily lives, causing disruptions to everyday activities and uncertainty for the future.
As a service provider for older adults, Empath Health is highly aware of the challenges presented to this group by COVID-19. This is especially true for LGBT elders, who are already less likely to reach out to a health or wellness provider out of fear of discrimination or harassment.
The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging currently cites a mortality rate of 15% for older people affected with COVID-19. LGBT elders are at a high risk of experiencing serious symptoms of COVID-19 if the virus is contracted because of high rates of HIV and cancer and of tobacco use.
SAGE (Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders) offers these tips and resources to help older adults navigate the COVID-19 outbreak:
Follow prevention guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Clean your hands often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Clean high-touch surfaces every day. This includes phones, remote controls, keyboards, tablets, doorknobs, counters and tabletops.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Throw away used tissues and immediately clean your hands.
- Wear a facemask if you are sick or if you are caring for someone who is sick and unable to wear a mask.
Prepare an emergency home quarantine kit.
- Have enough food, water, drinks with electrolytes and medication to last for at least 14 days.
- Stock up on (not hoard) cleaning supplies, pet care items and baby care items. Make sure you have a fully stocked first aid kit.
- Transgender people may need to consider additional items:
- At least a 14 day supply of hormones or other medical items
- Specific grooming or beauty items
- Access to prescriptions, IDs and legal documents – including court orders for name and/or gender change or other identification showing chosen name and/or gender
Call your doctor if you are showing symptoms. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for advice. Follow instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department.
Know the resources available to you:
- Food assistance may be available through your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). Search for your AAA or call 1-800-677-1116.
- Check to see if your city or county government offers a Special Needs Registry that offers safety and well-being checks for older adults and people with special needs during emergency situations.
- Stay connected with family and friends by phone, email and video chat to reduce feelings of social isolation and loneliness.
- Many people at lower-risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19 want to help. Ask for help with things such as grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions and arrange for them to drop items at your front door to maintain distancing.
- Call the SAGE Hotline at 877-360-LGBT (5428) to talk with someone ready to listen at any time.
- Transgender people can find additional resources at transequality.org/covid19.
To Those We Serve:
Empath Health is dedicated to protecting the safety of our patients, employees, volunteers and care partners. Learn more about how we are addressing COVID-19 concerns.