After months confined to our homes, it looked like the UK was finally coming out of lockdown – albeit gradually and at different speeds throughout the country. But with restrictions being tightened, it’s still far from certain what the future holds.
With more localised restrictions returning as infection rates rise, and worries remaining over the prospect of a ‘second wave’ of the illness on the horizon, it will be a long time yet before we’re back to anything resembling normal – and this could be a particular issue for the many older people who have been shielding throughout this difficult time.
How the right support is vital in tackling isolation
One of the biggest concerns for many older people will be keeping socially active during this time. According to figures from Age UK, more than two million people in England live alone, and with the opportunities for visits from family and friends and trips out to socialise limited, this can have a highly negative effect on people’s mental health.
As well as the additional loneliness it may cause, this isolation could make older individuals more concerned about their physical health. For instance, if they were to suffer a fall in their home or garden, would they be able to contact family or emergency services for help? Concerns about this may therefore prevent them from engaging in activities they would normally enjoy to keep themselves fit and healthy.
As a result, it’s more important than ever for older people to be supported at the current time. New rules on socialising in gardens will no doubt be welcome for many people – but this won’t be useful for everyone, and of course, there is always the potential for future lockdowns or shielding requirements to curtail these activities.
If family and friends can’t pop round in person, it’s vital they have other ways of keeping in touch, both to ensure older people’s health and wellbeing are being looked after and to provide essential companionship and conversation.