Extensive research has revealed the impact of the Covid-19 on older people’s physical and mental health.
Conducted by Age UK, the research highlights how the coronavirus has severely impacted the independence, confidence and overall wellbeing of older individuals, with calls for the government to provide the NHS and social care services further resources to boost recovery.
Impact of Covid-19 restrictions on Older People
Independence at home and in the community
A number of older adults have seen a decline in their overall independence as a result of the pandemic. With prolonged periods of isolation, increased anxiety and deteriorating health conditions all impacting the general health and wellbeing of millions of older people, the pandemic has had a negative effect on levels of independence.
Around 12% of older people in the UK (approximately 1.9m people) felt they were less independent since the start of the pandemic. A further 54% of older people felt less confident attending a hospital appointment, and 18% of people felt less confident leaving the house by themselves. 43% of individuals also said they felt less motivated to do the things they enjoy since the start of the pandemic.
Cognitive decline and mental health
Lockdowns, shielding and general anxiety surrounding Covid-19 has caused older people to spend prolonged periods of time in isolation, with reduced social contact and limited mental stimulation. Research has found that this level of isolation has accelerated cognitive decline for older adults, with 22% (around 3.2m) older people now finding it harder to remember things since the start of the pandemic.
This distress also exacerbated existing symptoms with older people with existing mental health conditions, with many over 65’s now experiencing increased levels of anxiety, low moods and depression.
Research conducted by Alzheimer’s Society (2020) found that people living with dementia had exacerbated symptoms due to the pandemic. Increased memory loss, difficulty concentrating, agitation, restlessness, stress and depression were the most common impacts to people living with dementia.
Impact on physical health and wellbeing
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen more older adults experience adverse effects to their physical health, with older people with pre-existing health and care needs and lower incomes hardest hit.
45% of older people living with a long-term health condition were living with more physical pain since the start of the pandemic, whilst 29% of older people on lower incomes lived with more physical pain compared to 20% of older adults with higher incomes.
10% of older people also reported difficulty walking up and down stairs compared to their previous physical abilities, and 9% of older people were finding it difficult to walk short distances.
It is clear that the pandemic has had a lasting impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of older people in the UK. Not only has this created challenges with living independently, but also highlights the long battle many of our older population will experience to regain the levels of physicality and positive mental health they once had pre-pandemic.
To read more about the report by AgeUK, click here.
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