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Coronavirus: Life for older adults after a vaccine

Written by Diane Archer

Bruce Horovitz reports for Kaiser Health News on what life is likely to be like for older adults once there is a vaccine for the novel coronavirus and the pandemic is behind us. Hint: It probably won’t be the same.Geriatricians and other aging professionals believe that, for people over 60, delivery of health care will change, as will travel and shopping. Even work and socializing will be different.

How will health care change?

  • Older adults have weaker immune systems, making it harder for them to fight off infections. Many older adults will want to be more cautious than they had been pre-COVID.
  • Telehealth is likely to become extremely popular among older adults. Online health care is safer than getting care at the doctor’s office. So, even if older adults have been reluctant to see their doctors virtually, there’s a good chance that they will adapt to more online interactions with their doctors. One geriatrician who has never seen patients online expects that he will see a third of his patients online and that he will see them more frequently, which could lead to better health for them.
  • People are likely to see a number of different doctors virtually and not a single doctor. That team model of care will allow doctors to work more efficiently with their patients.
  • It might also be the case that many more people will avoid going to the doctor’s office for their vaccines. Instead, they will get their vaccines at their local drug store.
  • If you need a blood test or a urine test, it likely won’t be long before you can do those tests at home.

How will travel change?

  • Older people will be less likely to take a plane to travel, if they can drive.
  • Older people are more likely to travel locally than abroad. As it is, older adults are almost half as likely to travel abroad than people under 65. Interestingly, pre-pandemic, 45 percent of people under 65 traveled outside the US each year; only one in four people over 65 traveled outside the US.
  • Public transportation and hotels are more likely to market their disinfecting protocols.
  • If you want to take a cruise, you probably will need to show that you have had the COVID-19 vaccine.

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