New research shows that nearly three-quarters (6.4 million) people aged 70 and over in Great Britain are worried about the effect that Coronavirus is having on their life right now, with over two-fifths (2.9 million) of them saying their mental health has been affected by Coronavirus.
During lockdown, half of these older people (3.3. million) reported that their access to essential items like groceries and medication had been affected. While the Government’s instructions to stay at home are vital for protection against the virus, they also mean that millions of older people are locked down alone, at an incredibly anxious time.
Mental health problems don’t end as you get older. Older people experience depression, loneliness and anxiety like other age groups. However, many older people do not seek help and instead, adopt a ‘stiff upper lip’ approach to dealing with these feelings, and the longer the lockdown continues, the more these feelings risk being amplified.
Age UK is raising awareness of the increased emotional strain that older people are under during lockdown as part of Mental Health Awareness Week 18-24 May.
The research shows that many older people feel anxious at this time, but not just for themselves. Over four in five (7.7m) people aged 70 and over are worried about the effect that Coronavirus will have on their family and friends, particularly their mental health and wellbeing, with over two-fifths (3.6m) of them believing it will affect it.
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director said: “Lockdown brought sudden changes to all of our lives and that has naturally affected our feelings and mood leaving many of us experiencing feeling low, worried or having problems sleeping.
“Understandably, social distancing can be boring or frustrating for many older people even though it is an essential measure for keeping us safe. We all miss being outside with other people and seeing our friends and family. Many are missing life events, seeing and hugging grandchildren, meeting new additions to families, going to weddings and gatherings. Even very basic things like getting online to order essential food and products can present a challenge. All of these things can have an impact our mental health which is why we should all take some simple steps to safeguard our own and other’s emotional wellbeing.”