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Coronavirus: Elderly suffering effects of isolation as 89% say their social contact has reduced significantly | UK News

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Almost nine out of 10 older people say their social contact has reduced significantly during the pandemic, with one lady telling Sky News that Boris Johnson’s latest address to the nation was “like a guillotine coming down”. 

A poll by the charity Independent Age has raised concerns a large proportion of over-65s are becoming more isolated during the crisis, while many are also struggling to access resources.

The charity’s chief executive, Deborah Alsina, warned the pandemic has exacerbated an already worrying problem.

“There are lots of people year round who are out of sight and out of mind who are living in dire circumstances,” she said.

“They haven’t gone away and the question is, are we picking them up during this COVID crisis?”

There are now more people experiencing isolation and loneliness for the first time, while those without access to technology are having difficulty with tasks such as contacting their bank and booking food delivery slots.

Although plenty of older people are tech-savvy, Office for National Statistics figures show 2.5 million over-75s had never used the internet in 2019.

Jennifer, 70, from Dawlish in South Devon, says she has felt “marginalised” due to her age – an issue which has got worse due to the pandemic.

She told Sky News she had felt “furious” after the prime minister’s latest televised address to the nation, as older people are still being advised to stay at home and limit social contact with others.



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Prime Minister loosens lockdown

“Suddenly it was like a guillotine coming down,” she said.

“You belong there and everybody else can do what they want really. Most of the people I’ve spoken to about it are pretty offended by it.”

Both Jennifer and Ms Alsina pointed out that the over-65s are a diverse community and they should not be subject to blanket rules.

“We live in a society that if it breaks down, the first people to suffer will be elderly people,” Jennifer added.

A previous survey by Independent Age also revealed almost half of older people are now struggling to access food.

Of those, more than a third of people reported they were skipping meals, reducing the amount of food they ate or cutting down on essentials.

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Some elderly people and their families say they have found it difficult to get supermarket delivery slots, even if they are classed as vulnerable.

One lady wrote on Facebook: “My 95 year old mother, just out of hospital, cannot access a delivery slot. Surely in this day and age you should be able to identify your elderly customers.”

Another said she was struggling to get a delivery slot for her mother, despite being recognised as a priority customer, as the slots were always full.

In another case, a woman said she was staying up until midnight to get a delivery slot for her 80-year-old mother – but that if she became ill, her parent would be “stuck with no means of shopping” as she is a “total technophobe”.

The government has provided supermarkets with a list of people who fall into the “clinically extremely vulnerable” category, and who should be provided with priority delivery slots.

Not everyone who is aged 70 and over falls into this category – instead they are described as “clinically vulnerable” – and they are still allowed to go out for food and exercise.

But many feel too scared to venture outside or into supermarkets, and consumer site Which? says it has received reports of extremely vulnerable customers still unable to access delivery slots.

Independent Age has urged that now is the time to put measures in place to support people, as these issues won’t simply go away.

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