In Press Release

Questions about COVID-19

A special blog post by Dr. Riekse, our Medical Director, who has provided answers to some of your most pressing questions about COVID-19. Dr. Robert Riekse, MD is a geriatric medicine specialist in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received his medical training from Hope College and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, followed by a residency in internal medicine at both Spectrum and Mercy Health. He completed fellowship training in geriatric medicine at the University of Washington. After his fellowship training, he was the geriatrician for the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Washington.

Do you have a question you’d like to submit to Dr. Riekse? Please email Miranda Ingraham at:

  1. How can I stay healthy? Try to eat well-balanced meals, including three meals a day, and try to get a good night’s sleep. The amount of sleep each person needs may be different, so there is not a set amount of time a person needs to sleep, though it is usually recommended to obtain 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Consistent and frequent handwashing is a must.
  2. Is it safe to take ibuprofen, or is acetaminophen better with COVID-19? Either one is likely OK in terms of its effect on the body. If you have COVID-19, acetaminophen is generally recommended for older adults in place of ibuprofen or any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) due to many side effects from ibuprofen or any NSAID. These side effects could include increased fluid retention, elevated blood pressure and gastrointestinal side effects, including increased risk for a gastrointestinal ulcer as well as reduced kidney function. Acetaminophen generally is much safer in the long-term, though one needs to be cautious in those with liver impairment.
  3. How can the virus impact two people so differently? That is a great question, one that I don’t think we fully understand yet. Generally, the virus affects those more who are aged 65 or older, or who have an immunocompromised condition as well as those with other health conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung disease or heart disease. Unfortunately, the virus can also severely affect younger persons who apparently don’t have any of these conditions, and the medical community is still working to better understand this.
  4. How can we combat mental fatigue? How can we combat feelings of isolation? Even though it is helpful to stay informed, I would generally recommend limiting views of the news and not watch the news all the time. This is a very stressful period of time for all of us, as there are still a lot of unknowns related to the impacts of this virus. We do not know the full impact of this virus, including its effect on our local community in terms of our overall physical and mental health as well as our economy. This will cause a lot of anxiety among us. It is important to try to stay engaged with others through phone, letter, FaceTime/Zoom/Skype so that we can maintain 6’ of social distancing but still stay in touch with others.
  5. Are there special foods to eat? This is where a well-balanced diet can be very helpful. Focus on an appropriate intake of fruits and vegetables, at least 5 servings per day, per USDA guidelines.


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