The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented health event that has particularly impacted senior communities. One of the unique challenges rising in concern is the lingering effect of the condition, often known as long-haul COVID.
Long COVID can materialize in different ways from typical COVID or other respiratory diseases. For seniors, it’s especially important to recognize these symptoms and learn how to combat long COVID. In this blog post, we’ll explore the symptoms of long-haul COVID and provide information specifically targeted at elderly individuals who may be more susceptible to this condition.
What Is Long-Haul COVID?
Long-haul COVID, also referred to as post-COVID, is a condition that involves new, returning, or ongoing health issues that present after being infected with COVID-19. Most people who were infected with COVID-19 recover a few days to several weeks after infection.
In many cases, people make a full recovery and do not experience any symptoms after the virus has been cleared from their bodies. Long-haul COVID, on the other hand, sometimes does not leave the body, and causes symptoms far beyond the normal four-week recovery window.
For seniors, long-haul COVID can be especially dangerous because it may result in a prolonged health battle and/or repeated visits to the hospital. It can also be difficult to diagnose because some symptoms are shared with other diseases that commonly impact seniors.
Long-Haul COVID Risk Factors
Long-haul COVID is a new condition that is still being studied. Today, it is not fully understood why some individuals fully recover from COVID-19 and why others develop long-haul COVID. However, a recent study suggests that there are factors that can increase the risk of developing long-haul COVID, including:
- Being a female
- Severe symptoms during COVID-19 infection
- ICU admission during COVID-19 infection
According to the study, which examined almost 600 long-haul COVID patients, these factors all posed independently increased risk of developing long-haul COVID. While further research is needed, seniors with any of these risk factors should pay careful attention to any COVID symptoms that are present four weeks after the initial infection.
What Are the Symptoms of Long-Haul COVID?
Sufferers of long-haul COVID have reported everything from mild breathing irritation to serious and potentially life-threatening symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Breathing issues
- Heart problems
- Kidney damage
- Loss of taste
- Loss of smell
- Neurological problems
- Cognitive problems
- Mental health decline
Because many of these symptoms can be caused by other medical conditions, long-haul COVID may not be the first diagnosis that medical professionals land on. It is not uncommon for patients suffering from long-haul COVID to undergo significant testing to eliminate other medical conditions before receiving a proper diagnosis.
What Are the Symptoms of Long-Haul COVID in Older Adults?
Because long-haul COVID is a new phenomenon, it can be difficult to diagnose. In seniors, it can be especially difficult to identify because many symptoms of long-haul COVID overlap with symptoms of aging.
For this reason, it can, unfortunately, be easy for a medical professional, caregiver, or family member to dismiss concerns about long-haul COVID, since the symptoms can be explained away.
It is important for seniors and their families to advocate for proper medical treatment and to talk to medical professionals who are willing to explore all options. Treatment for long-haul COVID may be very different than treatment for other conditions, so getting the correct diagnosis is critical.
How to Combat Long COVID in Seniors
For seniors already struggling with long-haul COVID, the first step in combating the condition is getting a proper diagnosis. Work with a medical professional to get detailed testing that can separate symptoms of long-haul COVID from symptoms of an underlying disease.
These conditions may be treated differently, so advocating for accurate diagnostics is key to recovery.
After a proper diagnosis, customized treatments will likely be necessary to treat symptoms. Every patient presents long-haul COVID differently, so each patient will need an individualized treatment plan. Long-haul COVID can cause symptoms across different medical disciplines, so coordinated care is also essential to a full recovery.
Specific treatments for long-haul COVID may include:
- Counseling and support
- Physical therapy
- Respiratory rehabilitation
- Relaxation technique development
In addition to specialized care, aftercare support is critical to managing symptoms and/or making a full recovery.
How to Combat Long COVID Fatigue
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of Long-Haul COVID and can be one of the most frustrating to treat. Doctors are still working on how to combat long COVID fatigue, but there are some early recommendations.
The most important is rest and allowing the body to recover by getting adequate levels of sleep and minimizing activity each day. It is also important to give the body the nourishment it needs to recover.
After a period of rest, individuals should ease into daily routines and work with their doctor on a personalized plan to reintroduce regular activities.
Recovering from Long-Haul COVID with In-Home Care
For seniors struggling with long-haul COVID, in-home skilled nursing care can be immensely helpful. An in-home caregiver can help seniors with daily activities while they recover and learn to manage symptoms. Assistance with these activities allows seniors to get the rest they need and focus on therapies.
Advanced Nursing + Home Support provides a variety of care services and is equipped to fully support seniors in Maryland and the D.C. area during their recovery. From light personal care to intensive memory care, our dedicated staff is highly trained to ensure seniors receive the personalized support they need, conveniently in their own homes.
To learn more about our services and receive a free consultation, contact us online today.