Elderly lady image

Age UK is calling on the Government to give the NHS and social care extra resources to help older people make the best possible recovery after its research revealed how badly the pandemic has impacted older people.

The charity has published a new report about the impact of the pandemic on millions of older people aged 60 plus in the UK, based on findings gathered in January and February 2021.

In its poll of 1,487 people aged 60 and over in the UK, its research found that 27 per cent of people couldn’t walk as far, with 25 per cent reporting that they were living in more physical pain and 17 per cent stating that they were less steady on their feet.

Advertisement | Continue story below

For a minority, but still appreciable numbers overall, the deterioration in their health and wellbeing had been severe and was affecting their independence.

Age UK found that 12 per cent of people felt they were less independent since the start of the pandemic and 10 per cent of older people who had previously been able to get up and down the stairs were now finding it difficult.

The research also found evidence of accelerated cognitive decline. Alongside prolonged periods of isolation, reduced social contact, and limited mental stimulation, by February 2021 around 22 per cent of older people were feeling forgetful and confused.  

The pandemic was seen to have had a deeply distressing impact on many older people’s mental health, with 36 per cent finding that they felt more anxious since the start of the pandemic, and 43 per cent of older people feeling less motivated do the things they enjoy since the start of the pandemic.

The Charity says that the impact of the pandemic on the health and wellbeing of some older people in early 2021 is so severe that the adverse effects may even prove irreversible, with big implications for the NHS and social care in the months and years to come.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director, said: “Our research found that immobility, deconditioning, loneliness, and an inability to grieve as normal, were leaving deep physical and emotional scars on a significant proportion of our older population.

“It’s too soon to know for certain how many older people can ‘bounce back’ from the pandemic but at the very least it will be tough, and they are going to need all the help they can get. The implications are clear: Government must give our physical and mental health and social care services enough additional resources to meet older people’s increased, pandemic-related needs.

“Sadly, millions of older people face long periods on hospital waiting lists, often in considerable pain. So as well as giving hospitals the extra funding they are asking for in order to reduce these lists as fast as possible, the Government must also look at what more can be done by GPs and community health services to support older people while they wait for their surgery, and increase their funding accordingly.

“Making sure these older people can access effective pain relief, for example, is a moral and medical imperative.”

This latest research follows on from Age UK’s analysis earlier in the year which found that living through the fear, enforced isolation and inactivity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has sharply accelerated the care needs of significant numbers of older people.

THIIS ROUND-UP
Join the 2,500+ mobility professionals who stay informed with THIIS' twice-weekly industry updates.
We respect your privacy
https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Elderly-lady-at-home.jpg?fit=600%2C450&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Elderly-lady-at-home.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Liane McIvorNewsroomReports & ResearchSector NewsThird Sectoraccess,Age UK,elderly,mental health,MobilityAge UK is calling on the Government to give the NHS and social care extra resources to help older people make the best possible recovery after its research revealed how badly the pandemic has impacted older people. The charity has published a new report about the impact of the pandemic on...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals