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Your Later Life 2020

We must keep older people at the forefront of our minds

Caroline Abrahams

Charity Director, Age UK

Dealing with this virus is a marathon, not a sprint – especially for older people, who are going to need everybody’s help to keep their health in good shape and their spirits high.


It has been heart-warming to see so much solidarity being shown towards older people throughout this terrible pandemic.

At Age UK, we have been overwhelmed by all the offers of help we have received and the generosity of the public.

However, we are also beginning to realise, as no doubt you are too, that dealing with this virus is a marathon, not a sprint – especially for older people.

Many experts predict a resurgence later in the year

Even if, as we all hope, the rate of infection continues to decline, it is still a real menace to older people in some places and in shared living settings like care homes.

We must keep these older people at the forefront of our minds and give them all the practical and emotional support they need.

What’s more, while it may be suppressed during the summer, many experts predict a resurgence later in the year, coinciding with the usual seasonal flu and creating a ‘double whammy’, which will be tough to overcome.

This means that older people are going to need a lot of love and support for a good while yet, if they are to survive all of this with their health in good shape and their spirits high.

Become a guardian for future generations of children by leaving a gift in your will.

It is clearly going to be a long time before the shielded group can expect to live ‘normally’ once again

The lockdown has been lifted to the extent that families are able to meet with both grandparents, albeit only in a public space or a garden. After so long physically apart, this felt like – and indeed was – a big step forward.

The next step was that those who are shielding because they are at exceptional clinical risk of becoming severely ill if they contract the virus, were told they could very cautiously venture out and meet one other person, provided they abide by the social distancing rules.

This was a very welcome start – though we know many remain too afraid to take advantage of it.

Nonetheless, it is clearly going to be a long time before the shielded group, that includes almost a million older people, can expect to live normally once again. 

We must keep these older people at the forefront of our minds and give them all the practical and emotional support they need.

It isn’t only shielded older people who require this, but others who live with someone extremely vulnerable, such as those coping with health problems unrelated to COVID-19, as well as the older people who contracted the virus and thankfully survived.

Let’s not forget, too, those with deep emotional scars following bereavement, who were unable to mourn in the usual way; and the older people who have lost capacity, or confidence as a result of being cooped up and less active than before.

We can only continue to be there for older people with the support of the public

Now is the time for us to redouble our efforts to reach out and care for older people.

It’s why our brilliant local Age UKs will go on being there, delivering food and medicines and running their local services, and why our national Information and Advice and Friendship services are gearing up – not winding down.

COVID-19 hasn’t done with us yet and older people still need our help.  

Age UK can only continue with the support from you, the public, so if you can, please do help us by donating via our website www.ageuk.org.uk/yourlaterlife or by giving us a call on 0800 077 8751.

Become a guardian for future generations of children by leaving a gift in your will.

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