Whilst lockdown restrictions are easing for many across the country, those in vulnerable groups are facing even longer living with the same restrictions, in a bid to stay safe. For elderly people, who are at greater risk of coronavirus because of their age, but also because they are more likely to have pre-existing conditions, the need to stay in some form of isolation, is even greater.
Yet the elderly are already vulnerable to loneliness. There are 1.2 million chronically lonely elderly people in the UK. And data reveals that the implication of isolation and lockdown on loneliness across the nation is huge. At the height of the lockdown, 3 April to 3 May, over 30% of UK adults reported that their wellbeing had been negatively impacted by loneliness according to the ONS.
Those of us in care homes are highly aware of the impacts of COVID-19. But we also need to be aware of the less obvious impacts – such as loneliness.
It is reality that for many elderly people the safest place for them to be, at the moment, is apart from other people. For those living independently, this is particularly difficult as they will have even less face-to-face contact than normally. However, the problem does also exist in care homes. Here, visitors have to be restricted. Even where they can safely be allowed again, it is with restrictions such as social distancing and meeting outside.
However, just because it is harder to visit elderly relatives and friends, it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to help prevent and alleviate potential loneliness.
Here are our top recommendations based on what we’ve been doing at our care homes in North Devon and Somerset:
The coronavirus situation and lockdown may have highlighted to you just how isolated an elderly individual is. It may be time to move your loved one into a care home where they can have regular and safe contact with staff and other residents, reducing loneliness. At our North Devon Care Homes and Somerset care homes we are now able to welcome new residents safely. Please do get in touch if you’d like to discuss options. 01769 573166.