Wednesday, June 23

Elders living in joint families at higher Covid risk: Study – Times of India

Nagpur: An European study published in The Lancet Healthy Longevity journal suggests that elders who live in multi-generational homes are at higher mortality risk for Covid-19. Though the observational study was based in Sweden, its findings raise a red flag for India where it’s common to have joint families spanning as many as three generations residing under the same roof.
The observational study, which focused on people aged 70 and above, found that the risk of death is higher when they come in close contact with younger people within the home.
The highest mortality was found in homes with at least one person older than 66 years of age and one child younger than 16 years. But after age adjustment in terms of this particular study, it was found that it’s not just the younger ones who could put seniors at risk. They found a 60% increase in deaths when elders resided with someone aged 66 years and below.
Maria Brandén, of Linköping University (Sweden) and lead author of the study, said, “Elderly people are more at risk of dying from Covid-19 if they live in a care home or with family members who are of working age.”
Another key finding of the study, which is very relevant in Indian context, is densely populated areas. The study found an almost 3 times increase in death rate when comparing densely and sparsely populated areas. Neighbourhoods having population of 5,000/ sq km had a death rate of 3.9%, whereas those having just 150/sq km saw a mortality rate of 1.1%.
The study, which was conducted between March and May, also talks about preventive steps to be taken. The key to protecting the elderly lies in arresting community spread, the study suggests.
Brandén adds that neighbourhood transmission is an important consideration for Covid-19 even if older people can and do self-isolate. “That’s because many of them will come into contact with working age people at some point,” she adds.
Commenting on the study, Dr Alison Roxby of the University of Washington School of Medicine (USA), said, “Household-level preventive measures will be needed to protect older adults as the pandemic continues. Vaccines and monoclonal antibodies are promising tools that may reduce the risk of infection and spread; older adults and their support networks should be among the earliest recipients once available.”
Senior medical practitioner Dr Prashant Jagtap said care has to be taken when it comes to source of infection. “Outside infection can come from maids, drivers or the younger kids who are moving out in crowded areas. In many cases which we saw, the younger ones were asymptomatic carriers and it came to the fore only when elders got infected,” he said.

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