Since COVID-19 arrived in Ireland, the elderly in our community have had to retreat and withdraw from society. Many have postponed medical checkups and appointments all in the name of safety from the Coronavirus.
There are countless services for the elderly that have been closed, home care/day centers stopped and many community groups no longer active. It is because of this that many of them have suffered negative impacts on both their physical and mental health by cocooning with reduced social contact.
As the country plows through with the vaccination process, it is time to think about our older loved ones and the elderly in our community. How can we support and safely reintroduce them to the community?
Issues Faced During The Pandemic
In order to know more about how we can help the elderly in our lives, we need to understand where they may be having issues.
A lot of the older people in our community were perfectly mobile before the pandemic. Now with thanks to the virus, their level of mobility has drastically dropped.
Dr. Ray Walley has said that the biggest problem he was seeming among his older patients was a loss of power in their thigh muscles. As they are not getting out and exercising as much as they would have before the restrictions.
70% of the calls from older people coming into services and supports like ALONE were coming from those living alone.
Having to isolate themselves and cocoon has left many feeling lonely, sad and depressed.
Worry & Anxiety:
According to ALONE, many of the older people who call their support line are grateful for the vaccine and looking forward to things returning to normal. However, they are nervous and anxious about returning to society themselves.
They worry about the lack of clear guidelines for the opening up of services and going out in public in general even though they have their vaccine.
Paving A Way Forward
Now that we know more and can understand where the issues are for the elderly in our community we can pave a way forward for them.
It’s always important to keep moving even if it’s a small amount each day. Whether you walk to the end of your estate or repeatedly circle your garden. It is important to get mobile and do it frequently in order to maintain muscle and reduce weight.
Of course, there are the overall benefits of physical exercise for your mental health too so it’s a win-win.
We need to help the elderly in our family and community start off small and work their way back to their original level of mobility (before the pandemic).
A problem shared is a problem halved. During the pandemic, over 49,000 calls were made to ALONE’s helpline. The elderly in our community are reaching out but it simply not enough.
We need to check in with them, keep up to date and connect as much as we can. Whether it’s over the phone, a socially distanced cuppa, or helping them with their shopping and errands.
One Step At A Time:
Older people have always been a strong pillar of the community. Whether it’s running groups, local events, clubs, and volunteering in large numbers. We need to ensure that we can build up and empower them to return to the heart of the community.
It is important that the elderly services begin to open back up and resume. We all now need to consider their safety as they return to society and create a long-term re-emergence and community-building program with clear guidelines for all.
Doing this will make each step back into the society that bit safer and manageable for the elderly in our lives.
If you or someone you know is living with arthritis and are looking for mobility aids in the kitchen to help make life that little bit easier. Check out the Uccello Kettle