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Your Later Life Q4 2021

Are your older relatives staying healthy this winter?

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Dr Jennifer Burns

President, British Geriatrics Society

The COVID pandemic has been devastating for older people, but there are ways they can look after themselves this winter.


The COVID-19 pandemic has particularly impacted older people, with the majority of COVID cases and deaths, particularly in the early waves, occurring in those aged over 65. The impact of the pandemic, however, goes beyond infections and deaths. Lockdown will have had a detrimental effect on both the physical and mental health of many older people.

Mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health and it’s vital that older people try to remain connected with family and friends.

Staying healthy this winter

As winter approaches and the pandemic rumbles on, there are steps that older people can take to remain healthy. Firstly, stay as active as possible. Everyone has different levels of physical activity that they are able to undertake. We encourage all older people to stay as mobile as they can.

All older people who received their second COVID vaccine more than six months ago are now eligible for a booster shot and GPs and pharmacies are now also offering flu vaccines which are free for everyone over the age of 50. Vaccines offer the best protection against COVID and flu and we encourage everyone to come forward for their vaccine.

Mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health and it’s vital that older people try to remain connected with family and friends, whether that’s in person, online or through telephone or postal contact. We also encourage younger people to ensure that they are checking in with older friends and family members and providing support, especially during the winter months when it can be harder to get out.

The NHS is still there

Headlines are constantly full of stories of the NHS being overwhelmed and it is true that the NHS is under extreme pressure. However, it is important to remember that the NHS is still open and there to serve the public. GP surgeries are open and are offering face-to-face appointments as well as virtual or phone appointments. We urge anyone concerned about any aspect of their health this winter to seek help as soon as possible to ensure they get the treatment they need, before any problems become worse.

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Ensuring digital technology is accessible for all generations

Harriet Gridley

UK Director, No Isolation

Human contact, love and close relationships are important for everyone, no matter their age or physical abilities.


There is a growing concern that smartphones and social media have largely moved social networks from analogue to digital platforms, often leaving the technologically inexperienced and elderly behind.

No one should be made to feel stupid, dependent on others, or excluded from the internet, yet 46% of people 75 and over in the UK are not online (ONS, 2021). Age UK reports that 1.4 million older people in the UK are often lonely, with the number potentially much higher.

Addressing the digital divide

Most digital technology is simply not accessible to older users, due to many reasons such as memory loss, reduced circulation in fingertips and auditory impairments. The digital divide has never mattered more.

We all have an experience of helping our older relatives use tech a nd then realising how difficult it can be.

Most digital technology is simply not accessible to older users.

At No Isolation, we want to empower everyone to have meaningful digital connections when their situation prevents them from connecting in person. Our recent research estimates as many as 5.6 million people over the age of 65 in the UK find touchscreens difficult or impossible to use (Source: No Isolation, 2021).

Simplifying existing technology – such as smartphones and tablets – is not the answer to truly inclusive design.

One solution is Komp, which is operated using only one button but enables those who have been digitally excluded to engage in video calls and content sharing with their loved ones.

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