Feelings of isolation and loneliness increase during Covid-19 pandemic
Feelings of isolation and loneliness have intensified among people aged over 55 over the past 12 months, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
A study of 200 C&C residents has shown that while only one in three (30%) reported feeling isolated or lonely in the last year – down from 38% in the 2020/21 winter – most residents with these feelings (79%) said they had not improved during 2021.
Indeed, over half (54%) reported that they were feeling isolated or lonely more frequently in the past twelve months then they had the year before.
With Age UK reporting that more than a million older people go more than a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member, the C&C figures are a stark reminder of the mental impact that the ongoing pandemic, and the various restrictions that have gone with it, can cause.
Friends and family offer the best support
On a positive note, 94% of C&C residents felt they had the right support networks in place around them, to help them either deal with or entirely avoid isolation and loneliness. Of these:
- 88% cited family and friends as a part of their support network, up from 58% in 2020
- 9% mentioned community groups around them
- 7% cited support from local authorities
- 6% mentioned other residents at their housing scheme
- 6% also mentioned religious groups
- C&C staff (5%), volunteer groups (2%) and work colleagues (2%) made up the support networks of a small number of residents.
Myriam Martinez, a resident at Edna House, has turned to both outdoor activities such as gardening and walking, and online classes to help her avoid loneliness and isolation.
“I did more gardening over the pandemic, and I took up walking to the parks when the shops were closed. I communicate more now with friends via Zoom, as well as taking guitar lessons, Zumba classes and others online.
“I realise now that I do not depend on others, and that I am more free to do what I really want to or should do. Walking has been a great lesson for me, and the guitar classes I have restarted having stopped having long time ago. I am eating consciously and better now.”
Julia Ashley, Managing Director of C&C and Over-55s Services Lead of Aster Group, said:
“Despite the obvious difficulties that Covid-19 has presented, we’re proud to have delivered hundreds of in-person activities for the benefit of our housing residents as and when we have been able to. These have been supported by online events as well, which has been well received by many residents.
“However for others, not meeting in person can have serious negative impacts on mental health. This pandemic has demonstrated how important it is to be able to reach out and be supported from a variety of different people and groups. We’re working closer than ever with our partner organisations to identify how we can help those who may be experiencing loneliness and isolation especially in these winter months.”