Older people are at risk
The risk of serious illness from COVID-19 increases with age. The rate is higher for those with other serious health conditions or a weakened immune system.
People living with dementia or some form of cognitive impairment may find it difficult to follow instructions to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19, or alert others about potential symptoms.
This applies particularly when people have a limited capacity to communicate verbally or express pain and discomfort.
COVID-19 vaccination, including booster doses, is voluntary but strongly encouraged for older Australians.
Vaccination remains the most effective protection against severe illness, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19.
ATAGI 2023 Booster advice update
For the best protection, the expert Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends an early 2023 COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for adults aged 65 years and older or adults aged 18-64 years old who have an increased risk of severe COVID-19.
More information about this advice can be found on our website.
COVID-19 vaccinations are free for everyone in Australia.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep you, your family, friends, and the community safe.
It is also important to have a flu vaccination every year to protect yourself and others. Older Australians are more at risk of becoming seriously ill from the flu. We recommend flu vaccination for:
- older Australians
- family and friends of older Australians
- anyone working with older people, including in retirement villages.
Vaccination protects the wider community from the flu. It also avoids placing additional strain on our healthcare system. The flu vaccination reduces the risk of getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Please note the flu vaccination does not prevent COVID-19.
More people who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are now eligible for oral antiviral treatments, taken as tablets or capsules at home.
You may be eligible if you’re:
- people aged 60 to 69, with one risk factor, now have access to Paxlovid
- people over 50 with 2 risk factors for developing severe disease
- First Nations people, aged 30 years or over, with one risk factor
- people aged 18 years or older, with moderate to severe immunocompromise.
Talk to your health professional about your risk factors and treatment options.
- Maintain good hygiene and physical distancing when interacting with other people.
- Have the chemist deliver your medicines while staying at home
- Have groceries and essential items delivered to your home
You can use our COVID-19 symptom checker to find out if you need to get tested or seek medical help.
If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing call 000, ask for an ambulance and notify the officers if you have been in contact with anyone with COVID-19.
If you develop mild symptoms of COVID-19:
- call a doctor, tell them about your symptoms and whether you have had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
- you can also call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.
Medical appointments and medicines
Aged care services during COVID-19
Aged care providers are continuing to deliver services through in-home and residential care settings, although some might have revised the way they do this.
Service providers will be able to give you more information about the way local circumstances might impact on your care and services. Providers and their staff are trained to deliver safe services which include:
- when and how to use personal protective equipment (PPE)
- how to practise physical distancing during service delivery
- how to prevent and control infections
- how to manage an outbreak if one occurs.
Temporary emergency support to live with family during COVID-19
Emergency support is available through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) for aged care residents who choose to take emergency leave and temporarily move out of residential care due to COVID-19.
Support is available for up to 8 weeks.
Read more about emergency leave and the Tier and Tier 2 services available through the CHSP.
The National Coronavirus Helpline – 1800 020 080
- Calls are free.
- Find out about COVID-19 vaccines and aged care support services.
- Talk to someone about mental health.
If you prefer to speak in a language other than English, an interpreter can help.
If you need an interpreter call the National Coronavirus Helpline on18 00 020 080 and choose option 8.
Community Visitors Scheme
Older Australians who receive government-subsidised residential aged care or Home Care Packages can have volunteer visitors through the Community Visitors Scheme.
The Community Visitors Scheme:
- Provides older Australians with friendship, companionship and social connection.
- Connects people with volunteers to spend time with them on a regular basis.
- Visits are available to anyone receiving government-subsidised residential aged care or home care.
Head to Health
The Head to Health website has a range of resources for people who need help coping with anxiety or worry.
- It also provides links to trusted Australian online and phone supports, resources and treatment options.
Friend Line telephone support service – 1800 4 CHATS, 1800 424 287
A free and anonymous telephone service for senior Australians to chat with a volunteer.
Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
- Beyond Blue provides dedicated COVID-19 resources to help you manage your wellbeing and mental health.
- Accredited mental health professionals provide a phone counselling service which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Advice for carers
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for carers to support their loved ones. We encourage all carers to access the support you need to maintain your own health and wellbeing.
Carer Gateway - 1800 422 737
- Contact Carer Gateway for information or support when caring for an older person.
- Visit the Carer Gateway website.
- Call Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737 for emergency respite care.
- Call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 for planned respite care.
Respite providers are trained to deliver respite services safely. This includes hand hygiene, physical distancing, use of PPE and monitoring health.
Please be aware that some respite providers have reduced their services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This relates particularly to centre-based day respite and cottage respite.
Contact your local state and territory health departments for information about your local health system arrangements.
If you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor.