NSW Health advises that people over the age of 60 are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
It is a good idea to speak to your GP (doctor) now about antiviral medicines or other early treatment so you can ask questions and understand your options if you get COVID-19.
Antiviral medicines work best when taken as soon as possible, usually within 5 days from when your symptoms start.
Vaccinations for seniors
People aged 60 and over are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible to reduce the risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 and from spreading it to others.
If you are aged 60 years or over and have completed your primary dose or course of COVID-19 vaccination and received your first booster, you are now eligible for an additional booster (second booster).
If you have concerns or questions you can call:
- Your doctor or GP
- NSW Health Vaccination Support Line 1800 57 11 55
- Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) 131 450 .
If you are feeling unwell
If you are 60 years and older and have COVID-19 symptoms, even if mild, you should get a PCR test as they are more accurate.
There are antiviral medicines and other early treatments available that can only be prescribed in the early stages of the disease. Please speak to your GP (doctor) for more information.
Symptoms of COVID‐19 include
- a sore or scratchy throat
- shortness of breath
- runny nose
- loss of smell or
- loss of taste.
If you can’t get a PCR test result quickly, do a rapid antigen test (if you have one) while you wait for the PCR test result.
Follow the NSW Health advice on COVID-19 testing if you are 60 years and older.
After you've been tested, you should stay home while you are waiting for test results.
If you are a household or close contact
If you live with someone who has COVID-19 or you are a close contact (an individual deemed by NSW Health to be a close contact) you don’t have to self-isolate if you have no symptoms, however, you must follow the NSW Health Household and Close Contact Guidelines for 7 days.
If you develop symptoms, you must self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19 – a PCR test is recommended.
If your test result is positive, you must follow the testing positive to COVID-19 and managing COVID-19 safely at home advice. If your test result is negative, stay home until you do not have any symptoms.
General advice to avoid COVID-19
There are no specific rules or restrictions for people aged over 60.
It can feel daunting getting out and about again following years of trying to reduce contact with others, but there are safe ways in which you can reconnect with your loved ones and do the things you love:
- wear a mask when indoors and when you can’t physically distance from others
- gather with family or friends outdoors or in well-ventilated areas
- wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or using hand sanitiser
- stay at home if you feel unwell, and ask others to do the same
- get tested for COVID-19 if you have any symptoms. If you get COVID-19 and are at higher risk of serious illness you may be able to access antiviral medicines
- stay up to date with your vaccinations, including COVID-19 and flu vaccinations
- continue to attend any medical appointments you may have.
Visiting vulnerable people
We all need to be more careful around vulnerable people. When visiting older and vulnerable people, take steps to stay safe.
People who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 include people who have a diagnosed chronic medical condition and/or a compromised immune system.
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities and people who live in a group residential aged care facility are also considered vulnerable by NSW Health.
If you have friends or family members who are vulnerable, you can help them by:
- staying in touch, but not visiting vulnerable people if you are unwell
- conduct your visits outdoors if possible and maintain physical distancing
- dropping off groceries or other essentials if they need support
- doing a rapid antigen test before you visit.
If you live alone or are self-isolating, take care of your mental wellbeing by staying connected with your community, family, and friends. While you might not be able to see people in person, you can stay in touch over the phone.
Using a mobile phone, portable device, laptop or computer will give you even more options to stay connected by text message, email, online chat apps and video calls.
Using mobile apps and online services
The Tech Savvy Seniors Program provides low-cost training to help seniors use apps and online services.
The program is delivered by community colleges and libraries at locations across NSW. Find out more about how you can access the training.
If you are concerned about protecting your personal and financial information online, visit the Australian Cyber Security Centre website where you can
- learn how to protect yourself online
- keep up with the latest online threats and know how to deal with them
- find out about help available if you are caught out by a scam.
Getting help at home
If you need help at home, visit the My Aged Care website to find out about the home care available to you on an ongoing basis or even for a short time. This might include services that will help you:
- stay well and independent
- be safe in your home
- keep in touch with your community.
Keeping active and healthy
Looking after yourself also means moving your body.
Keep yourself active and healthy by:
- getting some fresh air and exercise
- eating a healthy and balanced diet
- attending to your regular medical needs.
Going to a place of worship
Do not attend religious services, weddings, funerals or other gatherings if you are feeling unwell or if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.
You may want to ask the organisers if they will livestream the event so that you can watch it online and participate from home.
Information and advice
You can call these free services for information about COVID-19 or help with home care, transport, social connection or financial support.
- Phone: 13 77 88
- Open: 7am - 7pm, Monday to Friday and 9am - 5pm on weekends and public holidays.
- Information about COVID-19 and NSW government services
- Service NSW website
National COVID older persons information line
- Phone: 1800 171 866
- Open: 8.30am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. Closed public holidays.
- Practical help and advice on the current guidelines and support available.
Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN)
- Phone: 1800 237 981
- Open: 6am to 10pm, 7 days a week
- The COVID-19 Information Line is available for seniors to talk about your COVID-19 concerns.
- Older Persons Advocacy Network website
Disability Gateway (formerly disability information helpline)
- Phone: 1800 643 787
- Open: 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday
- Information and referrals for people with disability who need help because of COVID-19.
- Department of Social Services website
National Coronavirus Helpline
- Phone: 1800 020 080
- Open: 24 hours, 7 days a week
- Information on COVID-19 and vaccines.
- Department of Health website
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National)
- Phone: 13 14 50
- 24 hours, 7 days a week
- Free help in your language.
- Translating and Interpreting Service website