Charity Director, Age UK
With COVID-19 restrictions lifting, we must continue to help and support older people.
What a torrid 14 months it’s been for our older population, after COVID-19 swept in, carrying all before it. Gradually a degree of control has been reasserted over the virus, so that we can now begin to contemplate life after the pandemic.
Declining health amongst older people
Most of us will be pleased to shut the door on a year which totally disrupted our usual routines. But this will be far from easy for large numbers of older people, especially the bereaved and those forced to navigate these difficult months alone, cut off from their usual sources of friendship and support. We also worry about the pandemic’s impact on older people’s health. Untreated medical conditions, fear of infection and being cooped up at home inactive for months are all sadly a recipe for accelerated decline.
It may feel like the crisis is almost over, but for some older people the challenge of readjustment is only just beginning.
Some older people, especially the affluent and those lucky to have support from family and friends, have overcome these challenges relatively unscathed. However, our research suggests that for as many as one in 10 older people, the impact has been catastrophic. Every day, we hear of older people who pre-pandemic took the bus into town who can now barely get downstairs, or who now struggle to remember everyday things. It’s disadvantaged older people, including those from BAME communities, in disadvantaged places, who seem to be hit the worst.
Supporting older people out of lockdown
As we emerge from the pandemic, many older people are going to need extra help. That’s where Age UK comes in and where I hope you will too. Locally and nationally our charity will be pulling out the stops to be there for the older people who need us. For example, demand for our Telephone Friendship Services has gone through the roof and although we have expanded it, we just can’t keep up. Every donation will help us to respond.
There are many other ways to help: we are on the look-out for volunteers and we can all make a difference to the older people around us, in our own families and neighbourhoods.
It may feel like the crisis is almost over, but for some older people the challenge of readjustment is only just beginning. If you made an effort to keep in touch with the older people in your life when the virus was rampaging, now is definitely not the time to stop.