Closeup of elderly couple holding hands while sitting on couch. Husband and wife holding hands and comforting each other. Love and care concept.

Updated March 31, 2020

Older adults and people with chronic health conditions are at higher risk for more severe COVID-19 symptons including death. Due to a weakened immune system, it is more challenging for older adults to fight off infectious diseases.

Chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes, cancer, heart disease) are also more common with age and these may also weaken the immune system, making older adults even more vulnerable to serious complications.


Given the greater risk from COVID-19, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is strongly recommending individuals 70 years of age and older self-isolate. This means only leaving home or seeing other people for essential reasons. Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands. This also applies to individuals who have compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions.

Key Links

Frequently Asked Questions

Are older adults at a higher risk of getting sick?

Older adults (aged 65 and over) and those with compromised immune systems and serious pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.

That is why older adults 70 years of age and older and those with compromised immune systems are strongly advised to self-isolate for 14 days. Only leave your home or see others for essential reasons. Whenever possible, try to access services over the phone or internet, or ask for help with essential errands from family, friends or neighbours.

Should we be visiting parents, grandparents or older adults?

No! You should not visit older adults unless absolutely necessary. Stay in touch through phone calls, emails or video chats instead. Avoiding visits to long-term care homes is also essential.

If you are not feeling well, stay home and get healthy. If you don’t have symptoms and visit an older friend or relative, be sure to practise physical distancing — staying at least two metres apart.

What can older adults do to maintain their health?

Practise healthy eating, and be active, get the recommended amount of sleep, quit smoking or stay smoke-free, and adhere to low-risk drinking guidelines. For many older adults, normal routines have been disrupted with the emergence of COVID-19 and some may be self-monitoring and isolating. In these cases, connecting with friends and family members over the phone is a great way to maintain their sense of connection to others and support mental health.

Should older adults take extra precautions?

In addition to taking regular precautions related to COVID-19, older adults should also consider:

  • Working with their healthcare providers to obtain an extra supply of necessary medications
  • Staying in touch with others when self-isolating
  • Having a plan in the event that they get sick.
  • Determining who can care for them if their caregiver gets sick.
  • Consider ways of getting food brought in to your home to avoid having to go out
  • Look after your mental health. These resources can help.

What happens if you are required to self-isolate but live with people who are over the age of 65?
  • If anyone in the home has symptoms, it is suggested that they wear a mask.
  • If there are multiple bathrooms, assign one to the person being isolated.
  • Make an effort to not overlap with others and consider a separate bedroom or a separate part of the house for the person who is isolated.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect high-contact surfaces like door knobs, counter tops, and light switches.

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If you have questions about COVID-19, you can contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 x5020 or email at