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.