Lockdown Loneliness feared more than COVID-19 by nearly 1 in 6 over-65 Britons: study

Even with Margaret Keenan, 91, being the first person outside of the Pfizer clinical trial to receive a COVID-19 jab (that’s a vaccination to us Yanks) at Coventry Hospital on V-day 8 December, the Lockdown Blues will continue to play for the foreseeable future, right through the holidays and festive season. Last month this Editor noted a multi-country PLOS One study that pegged UK self-reported loneliness at 27 percent in the survey (March-April) period. 49 to 70 percent of respondents reported feeling isolated. Overall, “Being younger, female, having lower socioeconomic status, a pre-existing mental health condition, and living alone increased the odds of being lonely.” The survey was conducted via social media, so many of the findings detailed the effects among a younger group of adults.

28 percent of older Britons also believe that lockdown and enforced isolation have affected their mental health. A new study from SECOM CareTech that concentrated on older adults confirms even more depressing (sic) mental health findings in the older age group. Of their survey group of 500 people in the UK aged 65 and over (infographic at left):

  • Nearly 1 in 6 were more afraid of loneliness than COVID-19–and this is a group at high risk, with over 50 percent with one or multiple chronic conditions. A sample verbatim quoted: “I get depressed being in the house all the time, but I am too frightened to take the risk of going out even for a walk.”
  • Over half are worried about spending Christmas without their family. Another verbatim: “I seem to have nothing to look forward to now and the prospect of Christmas looks grim.”
  • 28 percent confirmed that COVID-19 had affected their mental health–of those, more than a quarter indicated that loneliness or not being able to see their family was a contributing factor.
  • 39 percent also reported that they had trouble sleeping. Verbatim: “I’ve had sleepless nights since the Covid-19 pandemic & lockdown… I’m constantly worried with the whole situation.”

What to do? Neil Fitzwalter, the care technology manager at SECOM CareTech, said, “More needs to be done to help those in long-term lockdown. That’s why we will be calling each of our CareTech customers on Christmas Day to wish them a Merry Christmas and make sure they’re okay.” Those on the monitoring teams will also be ‘signposting’ customers in the event they are experiencing a mental health crisis.

 

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