Older people and COVID-19

The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (coronavirus) increases with age. For example, people in their 60s or 70s are more at risk of severe illness than people in their 40s or 50s.

Severe illness means that you may need to go to hospital, an intensive care unit (ICU), or be put on a ventilator to help you breathe. There is also a risk of death.

People over 70 are at the highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19, while people over 60 are also advised to take extra care to protect themselves.

You are also at higher risk from COVID-19 if you have certain medical conditions.

Because of this, it’s important to:


If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate and phone your GP.

Read more about people at higher risk from COVID-19

Protecting yourself from COVID-19

Everyone should:

  • wash their hands properly and often
  • cover coughs and sneezes
  • follow social distancing guidelines
  • wear a face covering

Read more about protecting yourself and others from COVID-19

Testing and older people

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you may need to get a COVID-19 test.

A GP may request a home test for you if you cannot go to a test centre because of your health. But they will only consider a home test based on your medical need.

Visits from other people

It’s always safer to meet fewer people, less often, for less time, especially if you are an older person. But you may need people to visit you for your care and wellbeing.

If people visit you, ask them to clean their hands when they arrive. After they leave, clean surfaces they have been in contact with. Use your usual household cleaning agents and detergents.

Do not wear disposable gloves instead of washing your hands. The virus gets on them in the same way it gets on your hands. Also, your hands can get contaminated when you take them off.

Coping with loneliness and isolation

You may feel lonely and isolated if you are meeting fewer people. Support is available.

ALONE have a support line for people concerned about COVID-19 or having difficulties. Phone 0818 22 20 24, Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm.

Read advice on coping with loneliness and isolation

Minding your mental health

If you are older, different things can affect your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Read advice on looking after your mental health if you’re an older person


Coming into contact with someone infected with COVID-19 is the main risk when you are out shopping.

When you go shopping:

Last updated: 22 October 2021 at 1pm

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