Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Information for Seniors

Last updated: 3:55 p.m. May 19, 2020

Adults over the age of 70 are at a higher risk of more severe health consequences from COVID-19. Those with chronic health conditions and those with compromised immune systems (i.e. due to a health condition and/or a treatment that affects the immune system) are also at higher risk.

This webpage has been developed in response to COVID-19, in collaboration with Age-Friendly Peterborough. The information is relevant to community-dwelling seniors, unless otherwise specified. Visit for information on other supports for seniors.

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What to do if you start to feel ill
Staying Healthy
Mental Health
Visitors and Caregivers
Other Questions

What to do if you start to feel ill

If you start to feel ill or worsening of a pre-existing condition:

  • Limit exposure to other people immediately. If there are others living in your household, you should wear a mask and have all household members take extra precautions regarding cleaning and washing their hands.
  • If you are experiencing any of the following, call 911:
    • severe difficulty breathing (struggling for each breath, can only speak in single words)
    • severe chest pain (constant tightness or crushing sensation)
    • feeling confused (for example, unsure of where you are)
    • losing consciousness
  • For other new or unexpected symptoms or signs of illness, you can complete an online self-assessment at or you can call:
    • Your primary care provider (i.e., family doctor or nurse practitioner)
    • Telehealth Ontario (24 hours a day, 7 days a week): 1-866-797-0000
    • Peterborough Public Health: 705-743-1000
    • PRHC Assessment Centre: 705-876-5086.
  • They will be able to help you assess your symptoms and recommend next steps, which may include testing for COVID-19.
  • If the health issue does not seem to be related to COVID-19, call your primary care provider. If you don’t have a primary care provider, you can call the Virtual Care Clinic at 705-536-0882.
  • If you need medication, call your local pharmacy to ask about delivery options. Community Care Peterborough may also be able to help with pick-up and delivery. Call your local office or the main Peterborough office at 705-742-7067.


Staying Healthy

The following is a summary of the following fact sheets. Review the fact sheets for more information.

Public Health Ontario: How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19: Older Adults and People with Chronic Medical Conditions or Weakened Immune Systems

Peterborough Public Health: Older Adults – Protecting yourself from COVID-19

Stay home and practice physical distancing

  • Staying home and physical distancing are the best ways for people at increased risk for severe COVID-19 to protect themselves.
  • Ontario’s Ministry of Health strongly recommends that adults aged 70 years and older stay at home (“self isolate”).
  • This means that you should avoid going into stores. Consider these options instead:
    • Asking a neighbour or family member to pick up things you are in need of.
    • Ordering items that can be delivered to your home.
    • If the above options are not possible, curbside pick-up may be an option for you. If there is a hand-off of items or you have to touch something like a payment machine or gas station pump, have hand sanitizer with you to use afterwards.
  • Avoid visitors, unless essential. Maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres (6 feet).
  • Limit those with whom you have close physical contact (closer than 2 metres or 6 feet) to household members, intimate partners and essential caregivers. These individuals should wear a mask if they spend time in public settings (e.g., stores, workplace, providing care in others homes, etc.).
  • Note: If you must go into a store to pick up an essential item, follow the precautions set out by the store. Maintain physical distancing, do not touch your face, and bring hand sanitizer to use following the transaction. If you touch your cell phone while in the store, it should be cleaned/sanitized before you use it again.

Stay Active

  • It is important to remain active. Some exercises can be done in your home.
  • If you must go outside to maintain your physical and/or mental wellness, keep at least 2 metres (6 feet) distance from others at all times.

Connect Socially and Ask For Help

  • Stay in touch with friends and family through phone, instant messaging or video chat.
  • There are local programs aiming to support older adults at this time. Visit
  • Your primary care provider (i.e., family doctor or nurse practitioner) can help you access mental health supports. If you do not have a primary care provider, you can call the Virtual Care Clinic to be connected with mental health services,705-536-0882.

Wash Your Hands and Clean Frequently Touched Surfaces

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Lather and rub for 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Visitors or other household members should follow good hand hygiene practices as well, and in particular, wash or sanitize their hands immediately upon arrival to your home.
  • Try to clean and disinfect frequently touched items on a daily basis. These include door knobs/handles, sink taps, toilet handles, counters, telephone handset/buttons, etc. Cleaning can be done with regular household cleaners.

Finding Available Services

  • Any individual requiring specific services can contact Ontario 211 for more information by phone at 2-1-1 or online at
  • Your primary care provider may be able to connect you with local services.
  • The Age-Friendly Peterborough Coordinator, Jayne Culbert may be able to connect you with a service or program. She can be reached at or 705-931-4403. Visit for more information.

For information that is applicable to older adults in long-term care homes, see the Fact Sheet.


Mental Health

For many different reasons, people of all ages may be feeling that their mental health is strained at this time.

There are strategies to help people cope. They include:

  • setting a daily schedule / keeping a routine
  • finding safe options for walking or spending some time outside each day
  • helping others
  • making time for suitable exercises, on a daily basis if possible
  • staying in touch with your regular contacts as well as more distant contacts/family members
  • speak up about your concerns with someone you trust who can listen

CAMH (The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) has developed a fact sheet with steps for coping with stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are various local programs to help older adults stay connected. See for information.

More information on mental health supports during COVID-19 ca be found on our Mental Health & Substance Use webpage.


Visitors and Caregivers – protecting older adults from COVID-19

Please review our fact sheet: Visitors and Caregivers of Older Adults

The information is themed around the following:

  • Do your part to help older adults (aged 70+) to stay home and maintain physical distancing.
  • Encourage or help the older adult in your life to stay active, stay connected and know there are options for help if they need it.
  • Visitors and caregivers must wash their hands and encourage or help to clean frequently touched surfaces.

NOTE: If language is a barrier for communicating to the older adult, consider reaching out to the New Canadians Centre in Peterborough for support. They can be reached at 705-743-0882.

 Neighbours for Neighbours is a local initiative aiming to inspire all community members to consider how they can take simple actions to help out their neighbours. Write your name, phone number and how you can help on a card or note and put it in their mailbox. Things like picking them up some groceries, offering to do some yard work for them, etc. If you are helping your neighbour who is a senior, make sure you taking appropriate precautions to protect them.

More information for caregivers can be found at and in the Age-Friendly Peterborough COVID-19 Newsletter found here:

For information on visiting in a long-term care or retirement home, see the Fact Sheet.


Other Questions

Visit the Peterborough Public Health main Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage for a list of Frequently Asked Questions including an updated list of symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Visit the Support for Basic Needs webpage for information on Income supports and Food Access.

Call Peterborough Public Health at 705-743-1000 if you have further questions – we are here to help.