Millions of older people are still at risk of suffering from loneliness because many support organisations closed permanently during lockdown and only seven per cent have returned to normal service since, according to a new review by 10 leading loneliness charities. The Guardian has the story.
Loneliness, social isolation and living alone are all associated with an increased risk of early death, the Older People’s Task and Finish Group has said.
The group, part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Tackling Loneliness Network, also says that so many support organisations closed for good during lockdown that millions of older people are continuing to suffer loneliness, depression and deteriorating physical health.
The network, Co-Chaired by Independent Age and the Alzheimer’s Society, has found that only seven per cent of 96 support organisations questioned have returned to normal service after the pandemic.
Almost three-quarters of older people questioned in the network’s survey said they had no or significantly less support from the charities they had relied on before the pandemic.
“For people who told us loneliness was not just a product of lockdowns and shielding, but a symptom of their everyday life before the pandemic, the easing of restrictions is not a silver bullet,” said Deborah Alsina, the Chief Executive of Independent Age.
Some older people are coping well since restrictions began to lift, but the group found that a sizeable minority are finding life is just as tough as during lockdown.
“The extremely damaging side-effects of lockdown – long periods of isolation, a loss of routine and social interaction – have caused significant mental health as well as physical health deterioration for people with dementia, many of them just ‘giving up’ on life, fading away,” said Fiona Carragher, the Director of Research and Influencing at the Alzheimer’s Society.
“Many people we’ve spoken to are concerned that their isolation and loneliness will continue as restrictions ease because the support services they used previously have either shut down or are yet to be reinstated,” she added.
A further survey by Age U.K. found that, compared with before the pandemic, one in three respondents said they had less energy, one in four were unable to walk as far as before, and one in five felt less steady on their feet.
In addition, one in five found it harder to remember things, and more than one in four felt less confident about spending time with family.
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