Covid lockdown: We need to find a better way of helping lonely elderly people – Scotsman comment

It is no surprise that ‘lockdown’ has been named as the ‘Word of the Year’ by Collins Dictionary.

A better way to alleviate loneliness among elderly people is perhaps something good that could emerge from the Covid pandemic (Picture: John Devlin)
A better way to alleviate loneliness among elderly people is perhaps something good that could emerge from the Covid pandemic (Picture: John Devlin)

Humans are social animals, perhaps the most social of all, and the need for social distancing to help stop the spread of Covid has had a profound effect on many people.

This is particularly true for Scotland’s elderly population with many already suffering from the effects of isolation before the pandemic began.

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New research by Stirling University has found some 56 per cent of elderly people reported loneliness had become a bigger problem as a result of the restrictions. Professor Anna Whittaker, who led the study, said this “underlines the importance of addressing loneliness and social contact in older adults, but particularly during pandemics or situations where the risk of isolation is high”.

To recognise that such problems exist is not to criticise the need for social distancing and other measures designed to counter the virus. Until there is an effective vaccine, they are the front line of defence against this deadly and highly infectious disease.

But we cannot simply dismiss them as regrettable but unavoidable side-effects and shrug our shoulders.

Instead, we need to look for ways to help people feel less lonely with access to the internet among the issues to be addressed. Some elderly people can be reluctant to enter the online world for a number of reasons, but may also be open to gentle persuasion by relatives and friends.

Loneliness was a problem before the pandemic, but if we find better ways to help people during it, then this could at least be one good thing to emerge from this pestilence.

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