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The impact of COVID-19 on elderly people living alone

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people of all ages in a multitude of ways. This includes elderly individuals living alone, who, due to age and health-related factors have been required to stay indoors for the most part of over a year. Taking this cautionary step may have mitigated the risk of elderly people contracting the virus, but it has taken a heavy toll on physical, mental and social wellbeing levels.

Loss of Mobility & Increased Pain

Enforced inactivity caused by staying indoors for most – if not all – of the day for an extended period of time has had a significant impact on elderly people's physical health. Whilst some have been able to take part in light exercise, such as strolling around the garden or walking up and downstairs, many elderly people have not had access to such choices.

In a research study carried out by Age UK in August 2020, respondents identified reduced mobility, muscle weakness, joint pain, weight gain and increased risk of falls as primary areas of concern. Not only has this visible deterioration impacted elderly people, but also their loved ones, who have been unable to do much from a distance; this is especially so in terms of elderly relatives living alone without anyone nearby to check in on them in person.

Feelings of isolation and boredom – particularly among those living alone without any face-to-face contact – have become commonplace.

Isolation & Boredom

Whilst elderly people have accredited passing time throughout the pandemic to keeping in touch with loved ones, gardening, reading and exercise, feelings of isolation and boredom – particularly among those living alone without any face-to-face contact – have become commonplace.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, many older people made the most of opportunities to socialise through clubs, communal activities and volunteering (Age UK). However, the closure of these services to minimise virus transmission has contributed to 1 in 3 elderly people feeling less motivated, with activities around the home and garden no longer generating as much enjoyment.

Furthermore, the need for social distancing has led to an exponential rise in virtual means of communication, from Zoom to FaceTime. Whilst ONS survey respondents have identified keeping in touch with friends and family remotely as a coping mechanism, this has not been possible for elderly people lacking the finances and/or technological know-how.

Feelings of worry & anxiety

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused great uncertainty for people across all age groups, with some clear-cut trends when it comes to elderly people.

According to the ONS, 70% of older respondents affected by the pandemic mention having worries about the future. As well as this encompassing day-to-day plans, such as seeing friends and family, it also includes them not being able to attend weddings, funerals and other key life events later down the line.

Additionally, stress and worry about the future are likely to have been exacerbated by the perception that time is running out, especially for those with chronic health conditions and terminal illnesses. With the pandemic appearing to stay for a while longer, relatives are increasingly looking for innovative ways to alleviate feelings of worry and anxiety among elderly loved ones.
Click here to discover how AVERio’s range of tailored, easy-to-use products facilitate virtual contact between relatives and elderly people living alone today.
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