Lockdown restrictions meant nearly all normal touchpoints for social contact stopped as the pandemic took hold. The efforts to control the virus meant restrictions on our movements removed everything except those deemed ‘essential’.
This resulted in many people and especially the elderly, experiencing considerable isolation and loneliness for months on end. Even holidays and celebrations that were traditionally shared with family and friends, saw many elderly people cut off from others and forced to isolate. This was compounded by strict messaging and heightened anxiety about the transmissibility of the virus especially those in vulnerable groups, such as the elderly.
But even 18 months on, as restrictions are relaxing and the world slowly opens again, feelings of isolation and loneliness haven’t gone away. Many elderly and vulnerable people still feel anxious about mixing, and for some life is still very different from what it was before.
Why are elderly people susceptible to loneliness?
Many have suffered bereavements of family and friends, so their support and social circle are typically smaller and many live alone. Limited mobility, hearing loss, health complications and financial restrictions can also contribute to challenges in social interactions, resulting in further isolation.
Attending church, meeting friends for lunch, taking part in social groups, hobbies, or classes – regular social activity is vital to the physical and mental health of elderly people.
The impact of lockdown on the elderly
Lockdown began with all non-essential high street businesses closing and people ordered to stay home. This meant overnight every single one of these opportunities for interaction ceased. Opportunities that not only provided social interaction but also physical activity and cognitive stimulation.
The changes to routine which mark out the days of the week, diminished access to services, and reduced contact with friends and family, resulted in many elderly people feeling the emotional and physical strain.
Age UK reported the impact of the pandemic on the physical and mental health of older people included:
- Deterioration in mobility and movement
- Poor diet and malnutrition
- New and emerging cognitive decline
- Deterioration in dementia symptoms
- Increased severity of pre-existing mental health conditions and emerging new conditions
- Anxiety and specific Covid-19 related anxiety
- Low mood and depression
- Worries about the future
- Loss of confidence
- Health inequalities
How to take the next step
Even though restrictions are being relaxed, vaccinations are being administered and workers are being encouraged back into the office, significant anxiety remains for many elderly people.
Concerns around contracting Covid-19 remain, along with a lack of confidence and concerns around capability to re-engage with activities, both physically and mentally. These are big hurdles to overcome and will take time. It is important people do what feels right for them as an individual.
Both Age UK and Independent Age have helpful guidance specifically for older people as restrictions end.
Many of our clients benefit from the companionship that comes from our Live-In Carers. We carefully match the training, experience, and temperament of our professional companions with each of our clients. They end up becoming much more than a carer, and alongside taking care of personal, physical, medical, and domestic needs, also provide company and regular social interaction. This affords peace of mind to our client’s families and loved ones.
If you or a loved one would like to understand more about any of our live-in care services, please get in contact, we’d love to help.