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Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for older people

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

People aged 70 years and over, people with compromised immune systems, and people with some chronic medical conditions are at greater risk of more serious illness from COVID-19.

People most at risk

Your are at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 if you:

  • are aged 70 years and older

  • have certain conditions which compromise your immune system.

You are at moderate risk of serious illness from COVID-19 if you:

  • have certain chronic conditions.

If you have any chronic medical conditions it is recommended you discuss your individual risk and what you can do to protect yourself with your treating doctor.

Protecting yourself

It is important for people at greater risk of serious illness if they get COVID-19 to take extra steps to protect themselves. You should maintain good hygiene and take care when interacting with other people.

These are the best defences for you and your family against coronavirus. This includes:

  • covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue

  • disposing of used tissues immediately into a rubbish bin and washing your hands

  • washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet, and when you have been out to shops or other places

  • using alcohol-based hand sanitisers (60% alcohol), where available

  • cleaning and disinfecting surfaces you have touched

  • staying 1.5 metres away — 2 arms’ length — from other people. This is an example of physical distancing

  • continuing to stay at home and avoid contact with others

  • continuing to avoid non-essential travel

  • considering having the chemist deliver your medicines

  • considering having your groceries and essential items delivered to your home

  • downloading the COVIDSafe app to your smartphone for the times you do need to go out — the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line can help you with this

Read the NSW Health fact sheet about the support available to you if you are isolated and finding it difficult to access food and basic household items.


Symptoms include (but are not limited to) fever, a dry cough, a sore throat and difficulty breathing. If you develop mild symptoms of COVID-19:

  • isolate yourself from others at home and use a separate bathroom, if available

  • use a surgical mask when around other people. If you don’t have a mask, practise good sneeze/cough hygiene

  • practise good hand hygiene

  • call a doctor and tell them about your symptoms and whether you have had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing:

  • call 000, ask for an ambulance and notify the officers if you have been in contact with anyone with COVID-19

Medical appointments and medicines

You can access bulk-billed appointments with your doctor, nurse or mental health professional via phone or videoconference.

Accessing medicines while staying at home

Your doctor may be able to arrange to have your prescriptions sent to your pharmacy directly so you can stay at home. For more information on whether you can access this service please call your pharmacy and speak to them about the best way to arrange this.

Assistance with food and meals

Many Commonwealth funded providers, such as Meals on Wheels, can assist you with access to regular food supplies and prepared meals.

If you are in urgent need of support, you can call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 and they can refer you directly to these services in your local area.

If you are not registered with My Aged Care and you are 65 years or over, you can call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422. My Aged Care will ask you some questions to help you register. Services can be set up quickly for up to 6 weeks without the need for an assessment.

If you are already receiving aged care services, you can also arrange this directly with your provider.

Wellbeing support

The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line

Senior Australians, their families and carers can call the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line if they:

  • would like to talk with someone about the COVID-19 restrictions and the impact on them

  • are feeling lonely or are worried about a loved one

  • are caring for someone and need some information or a listening ear

  • need help or advice about changing the aged care services they are currently receiving

  • need help to access new care services or essential supplies such as shopping

  • are concerned about a friend or family member living with dementia

Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line

The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line provides information and support to senior Australians, their families and carers. Call Monday to Friday, except public holidays, from 8.30am to 6pm.


This information was gathered from the Australian Health Government website and is used as a reputable source of information to assist the public.


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