COVID can look different in older adults



By Cheryl Wilkinson
PREVIEW Columnist

A range of symptoms that is often quite subtle in older adults can indicate a COVID infection. Just being aware of that can help you decide what’s best for your family and loved ones.

Since the pandemic started, there’s a trend toward not being able to be “just” sick with upper respiratory symptoms like we could have before this event catapulted onto the scene. Having a sore throat or allergies can suddenly send us to the moon with worry. Conversely, subtle things like sleeping a lot, lack of energy or having a bout of stomach ailments may be seen as not being potentially serious since we associate COVID more with upper respiratory symptoms.

A new large-scale study in the respected Journals of Gerontology provides unfamiliar advice: “COVID can look different in older patients.” A third of the older adults hospitalized exhibited symptoms that did not mirror the more familiar “fever, cough and shortness of breath” picture. Out of the ordinary symptoms those sick individuals experienced included things we might simply associate with reduced function in later years — easy to overlook, but potentially deadly if not heeded. About half of those with atypical symptoms also had at least one of the more familiar fever, trouble breathing or coughing.

Dr. Allison Marziliano, lead author of the study, noted that the rate of atypical symptoms rose significantly with age. Some of the atypical symptoms seen among those hospitalized for COVID were:

• Falls, fatigue, weakness or difficulty walking or getting out of bed.

• Altered mental status — confusion, agitation, forgetfulness or lethargy.

Marziliano reports that among these individuals, “Their mortality rate was as high. So this shouldn’t be dismissed … Clinicians should know, older adults should know, their caregivers should know: If you see certain atypical symptoms, it could be COVID.”

Our website provides caregiver resources and information about ASI programs in Archuleta County, as well as contact information for making reservations at The Community Café for take-out and for Meals on Wheels at:


The Community Café in the Pagosa Springs Senior Center is requesting volunteers to help with the lunch desk. Please call (970) 264-2167 to volunteer or for more information.

Meals on Wheels
volunteers needed

The Senior Center Meals on Wheels program delivers approximately 3,000 fresh and frozen meals a year. We deliver fresh Meals on Wheels five days a week (and provide frozen Meals on Wheels for weekends) to homebound Archuleta County residents to help them stay healthy and independent in their own homes. 

This program is vitally important because many seniors have little to no access to nutritious meals. They are often too frail or have health complications that prevent them from preparing meals for themselves or from using the Senior Center’s Community Café drive-thru meals pick-up site Monday though Friday. 

The Senior Center needs volunteer Meals on Wheels Drivers for one day a week (or become part of our substitute driver team). Please join us as part of our driver team and build wonderful relationships with the seniors in our community. Call (970) 264-2167.

Dishes and china

Have old dishes or china that you no longer want to use or store? The Community Café is accepting donations of old dishes or china. Please call (970) 264-2167 for more information or to donate.

Take-out meals continue at Senior Center

In order to continue providing meals, the Senior Center is offering take-out hot meals and a salad with a drive-up option under the portico at the Ross Aragon Community Center. 

These meals will be available Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. There is a $4 suggested donation for lunch for those age 60 and better. If you need to have your meal delivered, please call (970) 264-2167 to see if this option is available in your area. 

The cost per meal for the public age 59 and under is $8.50. The meals include a salad, hot meal, drink and dessert or bread. 

Please call (970) 264-2167 to make a reservation for pickup. We are also continuing our Meals on Wheels program. 

There will be no games, classes or presentations during this time. The staff will be available by phone. If you need to speak to a staff member, please call (970) 264-2167.

Community Café menu

Thursday, Aug. 19 — Chicken with mushroom cream sauce, wilted spinach, milk, salad and chocolate eclair. 

Friday, Aug. 20 — Pulled pork sandwich, coleslaw, milk, salad and blueberry cobbler.

Monday Aug. 23 — Beef chili dog, corn on the cob with butter, milk, salad and crisped rice treat.

Tuesday, Aug. 24 — Spinach and mushroom quiche, sauteed zucchini, tomatoes and onions, milk, salad and lemon cream cake.

Wednesday, Aug. 25 — Lemon chicken, asparagus with walnuts, focaccia bread.

Thursday, Aug. 26 — Ham and cheese croissant, macaroni salad, milk, salad and German chocolate cake. 

Reservations and cancellations are required. You can make a reservation at (970) 264-2167 by 9 a.m. the morning of the day you would like to drive through and pick up a meal. 

For your convenience, you can make your reservations in advance or have a standing reservation on days you know you will always pick up. Please cancel if you cannot attend on your standing reservation days. We want to thank everyone for their support by observing our reservation policy. This helps ensure that everyone with reservations receives a meal and enables us to provide additional and healthier meals.

Due to COVID-19, food supplies have been affected. Substitutions will be made accordingly.