Elderly dying of COVID in Kashmir: Study shows older people don’t follow preventive measures

File Photo: KM/Umar Ganie

Srinagar: With elderly forming a major chunk of deaths due to COVID-19 in Kashmir, research has proven that despite being the most vulnerable to severe illness, older adults are not more willing to isolate when asked to — which put them at more risk.

Survey results from 27 countries, published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggest that elderly people are not more willing to isolate and are not more compliant with several Covid-19 preventive measures.

“Given the vulnerability of elderly people, we should expect nothing else but a greater level of compliance with preventive measures compared to their younger fellow citizens,” said researcher François Daoust from the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

“Among those who become ill with Covid-19, older adults appear to be more likely to be hospitalised or die from the disease,” Daoust added.

Jammu and Kashmir until Monday evening had witnessed 138 deaths with nearly 9000 cases of Coronavirus. Majority of these deaths are people aged 60 and above.

The study findings show that the elderly people are not systematically more responsive in terms of prospective self-isolation (if they were told to do so) and willingness to isolate.

“Moreover, they are not more disciplined in terms of compliance with preventive measures, especially with wearing a face mask when outside their home. This behaviour will become especially important when social distancing rules will be loosened. This is surprising because it is very reasonable to expect that those who are more likely to be hospitalized and/or die from the COVID-19 will be more disciplined and dutiful,” reads the study.

“There may be short-term or more deeply rooted predispositions among older people, that can partly explain this non-effect, but either way, governments must revisit their approach in order to minimize the number of deaths caused by COVID-19,” it adds.

In it, the research team examined survey results from 72,417 people of all ages across 27 different countries.

The surveys asked about people’s willingness to self-isolate if necessary, as well as their compliance with specific preventive measures, such as hand washing or wearing a mask.

The analysis suggests that elderly people are no more willing than those in their 50s and 60s to voluntarily self-isolate if they begin to feel ill or if they are advised to do so by a clinician or health official.

The findings showed that people aged 60 to 80 are also less likely than younger age groups to wear a mask outside their home.

However, older people are more likely to avoid public transportation and to avoid small gatherings or having guests over.

These findings suggest that efforts are needed to improve public health strategies to encourage older adults to comply with preventive measures.

A deeper understanding of elderly people’s attitudes and compliance could help inform such improvements and, ultimately, reduce the number of deaths due to the pandemic, the researchers said.

“The surprising (and quite shocking) findings entail major implications on how we managed and will manage the Covid-19 crises,” the study authors wrote.

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