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Coronavirus: Elderly in mixed-age homes warned to take "extreme care"

Coronavirus: Elderly in mixed-age homes warned to take "extreme care"

Published by May Norman at 6:51am 11th April 2020. (Updated at 10:28am 11th April 2020)

Patrick Jack, Data Reporter

Elderly in mixed-age homes warned to take "extreme care" to avoid catching coronavirus with more than 8,000 in North Yorkshire affected

  • Experts are raising concerns about mixed-age households across Yorkshire as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
  • 10 percent of people aged 70 plus in North Yorkshire live with one or more people of working age
  • Age UK is worried that the elderly may be put at risk as younger people are still allowed outdoors for essential trips.

North Yorkshire has more than 8,000 elderly people living with someone of working age which experts warn could expose them to an increased risk of catching coronavirus.

The Government advises anyone aged 70 or over to be particularly stringent” in following social distancing measures, as they are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19.

But residing with people of working age may bring challenges, charities and scientists have warned, as younger people are still allowed outdoors for essential trips.

Elderly

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show 10 percent of people aged 70 plus in North Yorkshire (8,115 residents) live with one or more people of working age – those aged between 16 and State Pension age.

This is ​well below the average of 15 percent.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said:

“Staying safe in multi-generational households is challenging but also incredibly important, especially if the older person already has significant health issues.

“In the end it’s about being really cautious and exercising your common sense – that’s the best way of keeping the virus at bay and ensuring everyone remains fit and well.”

She encouraged young and old people living together to ensure they keep their distance from each other, disinfect doorknobs and other surfaces, and follow hand washing advice, particularly after returning home.

Elderly with carer

Across the UK, 1.3 million people aged 70 or over live in multi-generational households.

​In Yorkshire and The Humber, the average rate is 12 per cent – ​the lowest of any UK region.

Neil O’Brien, a Conservative MP who requested the data, said people in their 70s should completely self-isolate where possible, and rely on help to get food and medicine delivered.

He warned families living with them to take “extreme care” by socially distancing even more than the rest of the population, and not going out unless absolutely essential.

He added:

“I know this sounds really intense, but it could save the life of your loved ones in the coming weeks.”

Jennifer Dowd, an Oxford University epidemiologist, said a combination of high rates of co-residence along with a high proportion of older people would lead to a large number of coronavirus cases – which could explain why Italy has been so badly affected.

She said:

“I think in general that more contact between younger and older generations through co-residence would be expected to speed up transmission from working age populations to older more vulnerable groups, who are then more likely to have serious symptoms and show up as cases right now.”