An article in the New York Times discusses the challenges faced by seniors dealing with long Covid (LC), a condition characterized by lingering symptoms that persist for an extended period after a Covid-19 infection. Patricia Anderson, a 66-year-old medical librarian, shares her roller-coaster journey. Before the pandemic, she led an active life, but after contracting Covid-19 in March 2020, she experienced severe symptoms such as extreme chills, shortness of breath, cognitive decline, and a nervous system disorder. Even months later, she struggled with fatigue and rehabilitation attempts brought only temporary progress.
Long Covid, or post-Covid syndrome, affects a significant portion of those infected, with about 11 percent of American adults experiencing it. Older adults, while not more prone to LC overall, are at a higher risk for certain clusters of symptoms, including metabolic disorders, cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal issues, and neurological symptoms.
The article highlights the experiences of seniors like Jane Wolgemuth, who initially had a mild Covid infection but later developed cognitive problems and was diagnosed with LC. Seniors may mistake these symptoms for typical aging-related issues, which can have serious consequences for their overall health.
Preventing Covid-19 infection through vaccination and boosters is the most effective way to avoid LC, but it does not eliminate the risk entirely. Antiviral treatments like Paxlovid can reduce the risk of long Covid, particularly in older individuals. However, there is currently no known medication to reverse LC, and recovery can be slow and challenging.
Rehabilitation approaches have proven effective, but there is a shortage of programs and clinics specializing in long Covid treatment, and some doctors dismiss patients’ symptoms. As a result, LC patients, including seniors, are advocating for research and treatments, with support groups and patient-led initiatives playing a crucial role in helping individuals cope with the condition.
While there is ongoing research and clinical trials, many LC patients, especially seniors, rely on support groups and online communities to navigate their journey and find validation for their struggles. The Biden administration has announced efforts to lead long Covid research, bringing hope for improved understanding and treatment in the future.