Care for the Elderly in Covid

Care for the elderly during Covid
In this episode of MedHeads I had the pleasure of chatting with Dr Jesse Zanker. Jesse is a geriatrician, a doctor who specialises in the care of elderly patients and patients who need complex care coordination.
He has had first-hand experience of having to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic struck Australia in March 2020 Jesse and his colleagues had to significantly change the way they delivered services to elderly patients. He had to embrace telehealth as a means of providing expert care to his patients.

In 2020 Covid struck the elderly care sector and caused many deaths. Jesse explained to me that some of the reasons for this was firstly that care homes were not equipped to deal with a highly transmissible infectious disease, and secondly elderly people are more vulnerable to infectious diseases, including COVID.

Whilst COVID does not discriminate, in the early stages of the pandemic in Australia Jesse had to look after many unvaccinated elderly patients in hospital. Unfortunately, many of these elderly patients died. Now, when we are in the vaccination phase of the pandemic, he still spends a significant proportion of his time looking after sick patients in hospital, some of whom have died. But rather than being unvaccinated elderly patients, Jesse is now seeing young unvaccinated patients die from COVID

Jesse and I discuss the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and in particular the delta variant which is more transmissible and more lethal than its original precursor. We emphasis the role that vaccination has in firstly preventing serious illness and hospital admission, and secondly in reducing the risk of transmission to friends and loved ones.

We both look forward to reaching the Victorian 80% double vaccinated target, which may allow us to enjoy Christmas dinner with our friends and families. Unfortunately we both agree that such is the pervasive nature of the pandemic that it is unlikely that we will ever re-experience life as we knew it pre-covid.

Author: Ferghal Armstrong
FRACGP, FAChAM, FASLM
Ferghal is a general practitioner, Addiction Medicine specialist and fellow of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine