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MILLIONS of elderly people have deteriorated physically and mentally owing to coronavirus restrictions, according to a study published today.
Age UK said that the pandemic had “hit the fast-forward button on ageing,” with a substantial group of people left “frightened, depressed and very much alone.”
As cases rise, the charity said it hopes that the government will resist “ageist siren calls” to shut older people away.
The charity’s survey among 1,364 people over the age of 60 found that over a third feel more anxious and less motivated to do things they enjoy since the start of the pandemic.
Around a quarter said they cannot walk as far as they used to, a fifth are finding their memory has declined and 18 per cent are feeling less steady on their feet.
Almost two-thirds now feel less confident in taking public transport, and a quarter feel less confident in spending time with family.
Age UK’s charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “We have rightly heard a lot about the enormous problems facing older people in care homes, but this new research reveals that life is extremely challenging for many cooped up for month after month in their own homes too.”
The National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC), which campaigns for older people’s rights, said the research showed that “ageism is alive and well and the human rights of those older people in care have already been violated during this pandemic.”
Jan Shortt, general secretary of the NPC, said: “We are concerned that the government has not learned any lessons from the lockdown in March and that it is preparing to put the same restrictions on older people again.
“While older people are more at risk from the virus, it is not unreasonable for them to expect to be able to lead a near-normal life, including receiving treatment for their conditions.
“Life has changed, but for older people already anxious and concerned about the spread of the virus, the added challenge of being shut away in their own homes is enormous.
“Age and vulnerability are quite different. People are vulnerable because of their medical conditions, and that can be at any age.
“Depriving older people of friendship and companionship in their later years — shutting them away from all things necessary to their physical, emotional and mental well-being — is another danger to their health.”
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