Shrewsbury-based Radfield Home Care, which operates throughout the UK, surveyed 250 adults aged 60 and above to understand and shine a light on the experiences of older people during the various national lockdowns.
Almost half of all respondents (45 per cent) said they had experienced significant feelings of loneliness during the pandemic and as a result, a further four in 10 had also experienced low mood. Two in 10 had struggled with anxiety and one in 10 had battled depression.
“We already know there’s a loneliness epidemic in the UK, particularly amongst those in their 70s and 80s who live alone, but lockdown has significantly compounded this problem,” said Alex Green, director of Radfield Home Care.
“As a home care provider, we have genuine concerns about who will be looking out for older people as life returns to normal. Many of us are now getting back to our workplaces and our busy lives, but older people who’ve had support from family or neighbours may feel even more alone and disconnected as a result.
“For these people, loneliness can have profound effects on physical and mental health, as well as life expectancy. That’s a gap we’re working very hard to bridge, but it’s absolutely essential that the whole of society, including the UK government, plays a part in supporting our older population.”
The research also found that 73 per cent of participants were nervous about the UK’s planned easing of restrictions on June 21. 53 per cent of respondents said they had concerns about infection rates rising when lockdown lifts, while just over 10 per cent were worried about interacting with others. Eight per cent feared visiting supermarkets, shops and restaurants.
“I think we need to recognise that a lot of older people have been shielding for such a long time that it’s become the norm and feels safe. It’s understandable that they’d have concerns about getting back out into the community, and it’s important that they take things at a pace that feels comfortable for them,” added Alex.
“However, continuing to provide that support will be a lifeline for older people as restrictions lift, so we encourage people to regularly check in on family members and neighbours through calls, notes and doorstep chats, or perhaps even offer to help collect food or prescriptions if possible.
“It might not seem much, but even the smallest interactions can play a huge role in helping isolated, vulnerable and lonely people to feel more connected. “No one should ever feel alone, and we hope that together, we can start to make a real difference for those who need it most.”