COVID-19: Resources for Those at High-Risk

Right now we all need to take extra steps to stay healthy and limit the spread of the new coronavirus: washing hands often, avoiding close contact with others, wearing a cloth mask when you go out, covering coughs and sneezes, and cleaning frequently (more details here).

People who face high risk of getting severely ill need to be extra cautious. See if you fit the profile, and find targeted resources to help minimize risk and cope with today’s extraordinary circumstances. 

Who is at high risk of serious illness?

  • Adults age 65 and older
  • People with:
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Weaker immune systems (includes people receiving cancer treatment or bone marrow or organ transplant, people with immune deficiencies or poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, people who use corticosteroids and other medications that can weaken the immune system, and people who smoke)
  • Severe obesity 
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease (and anyone undergoing dialysis)
  • Liver disease
  • People in nursing homes/long term care facilities

How can you protect yourself if you’re at high risk?

The CDC outlines these steps:

  • Stay at home as much as possible.
  • Wash hands often and thoroughly.
  • Stay six or more feet away from others and stay away from anyone who is sick.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched often (phones, doorknobs, faucet handles, etc.)
  • Avoid air travel and cruises.
  • Call your health care provider if you have questions or feel sick.

Resources for older adults

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has clear, easy-to-read information on how to protect yourself if you’re 65 or older. You’ll also find tips for coping with stress, symptoms to watch for and a self-checker tool. The CDC also explains why it’s a good idea to create a care plan in case you do get sick, and offers a sample you can download.

Southern Maine Agency on Aging (SMAA) has an extensive list of resources for navigating the new coronavirus on their website. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find:

  • Tips on avoiding COVID-19-related fraud
  • How to apply for financial assistance
  • Where to turn for questions on Medicare coverage
  • Information for caregivers 

SMAA can also connect you with a resource specialist for more information. Call 207-396-6500 or send an email to referral@smaaa.org.

(SMAA serves Cumberland and York counties. Much of the information on their COVID-19 resource page is useful wherever you live. But if you need find to a resource center near you, go to Maine.gov and scroll down to the map.)

People Plus, is anonprofit serving Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, with a focus on keeping older adults active, engaged, and connected to their greater communities. Though their Center and programs are temporarily closed, staff are updating the People Plus home page, where you can find the latest on the local Meals on Wheels and morning phone check-in program.

People Plus is also converting their exercise classes to videos you can access for free. Yoga, tai chi, Zumba – there’s more added every day, and look for a YouTube channel soon. Learn more here. The site also offers links to free cooking classes.

Resources for people with cancer

The American Cancer Society has a variety of resources for cancer patients, survivors, and others who are facing cancer in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

  • Answers, 24/7.The National Cancer Information Center has specialists on standby around the clock to help with questions about COVID-19 and cancer, safety, and more. Call800-227-2345 oruselive chat.
  • FAQs about cancer and COVID-19 for patients and their families and caregivers.
  • Advice and tips for caregivers.
  • Cancer Survivors Network, online support and resources that could be especially helpful now.

Resources for people with diabetes

Diabetes gets more complicated when you’re also dealing with a viral infection – and COVID-19 is no exception. The American Diabetes Association has information online at diabetes.org/coronavirus or you can call 800-342-2383. These pages are especially helpful:

Resources for people with heart disease

The American Heart Association website is a great resource for people who are navigating the outbreak with cardiovascular disease.

  • This 9-minute video is a great place for heart and stroke patients to start.
  • Find advice from Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAAFP, AHA Chief Medical Officer for Prevention here, including:
  • Preparing to manage your condition at home for an extended period of time.
  • Tons of strategies on how to stay active, cope with stress and eat heart healthy.
  • At-home safety tips to follow if you end up contracting COVID-19 but are well enough to recover at home.
  • Current heart and stroke news, such as why testing for COVID-19 is critical and tips for exercising safely outside during this time.

Resources for people with kidney disease

The American Kidney Fund has compiled COVID-19-related information on a special page on their website.

Resources for people with liver disease

Visit this special section of the American Liver Foundation website for update with targeted information about COVID-19 for liver patients and their families.

  • Essential information for people with liver disease.
  • Helpful videos, including tips on coping with extra stress during the outbreak, healthy eating, and more. 
  • FAQs.
  • For information by phone, call the ALF helpline at 800-465-4837,Monday to Friday, 9 am–7 pm.

Resources for people with lung disease and chronic lung conditions

The American Lung Association website has a special COVID-19 section with a wealth of information.

  • Get answers to your questions, including: Should I use a pulse oximeter to monitor my oxygen levels, should I temporarily suspend medications that may compromise my immune system, and more.
  • Get a list of questions to ask your doctor about COVID-19 if you develop symptoms.
  • Watch a special webinar on Mondays at 2 pm ET for the latest recommendations for people with lung disease from Chief Medical Officer, Albert Rizzo, MD, FACP.
  • Find support by connecting with people that share your situation through an online community.
  • Call the Lung HelpLine with questions at 800-LUNGUSA, Monday to Friday, 8 am–10 am ET and Saturday and Sunday, 10 am–6 pm ET, or submit a question online.

If you have additional questions or questions about a condition not covered here, don’t hesitate to call your primary care team or health provider. They know your medical history best and are ready to help.

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