Isolation among over 65s on the increase, poll finds

Deborah Alsina, chief executive of Independent Age

Older people are feeling more isolated as their social contact has reduced during the Covid-19 pandemic, polling by older people’s charity Independent Age has found.

Its poll of 483 people aged over 65, conducted by Opinium between 15 and 18 May, found the proportion of people having their social contact significantly reduced rose from 75% when the same survey was conducted eight weeks ago, as lockdown began in late March, to 89% now.

Experiences of ageist language have also increased over the course of the crisis, with nearly one in five respondents (18%) having heard or been on the receiving end of negative language about older people in relation to coronavirus. This was an increase from 12% in late March.

Deborah Alsina, Independent Age chief executive, said: ‘It’s incredibly disappointing that one in five people over 65 are hearing ageist language as the coronavirus pandemic continues – and particularly that this figure has increased.

‘At Independent Age, we’re also very concerned about how many older people are experiencing isolation and loneliness at this challenging time.

‘Some older people will need practical or emotional support, so this needs to be in place throughout the duration of this crisis. It’s vitally important that no one feels that they are going through this alone.’

Writing in the May edition of CM, Campaign to End Loneliness campaign manager Andy Nazer said there were more than 1.2 million people over the age of 65 who were chronically lonely in the UK.

He said during the pandemic a lack of proper food and medication, the fear of hospitalisation, and the possibilities of loved ones catching the virus added to other worries that they may be experiencing, such as dementia, chronic illness and dying alone.