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COVID-19 ravages older adults: 900,000 deaths in the US, igniting concerns over neglect

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United States: The latest COVID-19 wave has disclosed something horrifying and concerning about US healthcare for one of the vulnerable communities – older adults.

According to the details by the health officials, the death toll among the older population was shocking and horrifying. As of now, as many as 900,000 adults have died because of COVID-19 infection in the United States. Of the total number of older Americans, three of four have died in the pandemic.

What does the latest trend inform?

Currently, the health authorities and governments have accepted the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the major reason behind the COVID-19 pandemic, as a part of lives. Due to this, the majority of the population has stopped taking precautionary measures, including masking and vaccination. In the midst of all this, senior citizens – one of the weakened communities of the US – have also been ignored and are not getting antiviral therapies for the infection, according to KFF Health News.

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In addition to this, older adults are also not getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to the latest data revealed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during the last week of 2023 and the initial two weeks of 2024, 4,810 people – aged 65 and older have lost their lives due to the infection. Additionally, during the same period, 1,201 older people lost their lives to flu, and 126 died because of RSV.

Senior Adviser for Aging at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement – Alice Bonner, aged 66, stated, “It boggles my mind that there isn’t more outrage. I’m at the point where I want to say, ‘What the heck? Why aren’t people responding and doing more for older adults?’”

How badly has COVID worsened the matter?

Earlier, while addressing a similar matter, a professor of psychology and gerontology at Cornell University – Karl Pillemer, aged 69, mentioned that older adults have always dealt with such situations, but “it feels more intense, more hostile.”

He further stated, “I think the pandemic helped reinforce images of older people as sick, frail and isolated — as people who aren’t like the rest of us,” adding, “And human nature being what it is, we tend to like people who are similar to us and be less well disposed to ‘the others,’” as per KFF Health.

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In addition to this, the author of nine books on aging and professor emeritus at Texas Medical Center in Houston – W. Andrew Achenbaum, mentioned, “A lot of us felt isolated and threatened during the pandemic. It made us sit there and think, ‘What I really care about is protecting myself, my wife, my brother, my kids, and screw everybody else.’”

A similar concern was shared by another expert who leads the Administration on Aging at the Department of Health and Human Service – Edwin Walker, aged 67, said that the infection has been disproportionately affecting the older population of the United States. “People now think the crisis is over, and we have a deep desire to return to normal,” Walker said.

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