Senior citizens worst affected due to COVID-19 lockdown: Survey

at 4:55 pm

New Delhi (NVI): The current lock down situation due to the global Covid-19 pandemic has drastically affected the lives of the elderly, according to a latest survey.

70 per cent of the senior citizen population is either already facing health complications or fearing to develop some due to the current lockdown restrictions, according to the survey conducted by Agewell Foundation, an NGO, working for the welfare and empowerment of older people in the country since 1999.

The survey was conducted on around 5,000 people from across the country in order to assess the impact of the prevailing situation on their lives.

According to the survey, approximately 55 per cent elderly respondents asserted that current lock down situation is affecting their health condition adversely.

75 per cent of such elderly patients said that they missed the healing touch of their doctor, as they could not visit them personally. 43 per cent of the patients were undergoing regular pathological check-ups, and they have to avoid these check-ups all of a sudden.

However, 25 per cent elderly said that the lockdown has not affected their current health condition so far and approximately 5 per cent elderly said that their health condition is improving due to clean environment resulting from lockdown rules.

According to elderly, access to regular medicines/physiotherapy was most critical health challenge being faced by them, as 44 per cent respondents termed this as most critical health challenge before them.

Anxiety, sleeplessness, lack of appetite and lack of physical activity was termed most critical health challenge, according to 34 per cent respondents.

During the survey, more than a half (approx. 54 per cent) elderly admitted that their social life has been disturbed due to Coronavirus lockdown. Among these elderly, 71 per cent claimed that they are fearful of meeting anyone or to interact with anyone nowadays.

While interacting with older persons, the survey volunteers observed that majority of older persons look depressed due to this new phenomenon. They expressed sense of apprehension, resentment, anxiety and even anger while talking over phone.

In another finding, during the lock down period, 52% elderly respondents claimed that their interpersonal relationship with family members particularly their own children has further deteriorated due to hardly any communication, conflict of personal ego, interests and attitude.

Interestingly, 59 per cent of elderly, staying with their other family members claimed that they still feel psychological loneliness/isolation even amid their family members. Primary reasons for this situation were – neglect by younger family members, unsympathetic relationship, discriminatory behavior against elderly, rising frustration levels, etc.

Himanshu Rath, Founder Chairman of Agewell Foundation says, “Due to the current Covid-19 lockdown, most of the older persons are struggling and facing a peculiar situation in their life. Elderly are finding themselves at the receiving end, those who are living alone have practical problems and those who are living with families, have psychological issues.

“Under current tension of Coronavirus, elderly are getting depressed due to lack of assured medical & financial support, social interaction and lack of independence/self-respect/ dignity.”  Rath further added, ” Government should extend a helping hand to old people by announcing certain packages, exclusively for Old People.”

The survey also made a few recommendations for the government:

-Launch a Helpline for Older Persons
-Announce benefits for older persons like guaranteed subsidy/loans.
-Announce GST waiver for businesses focused on senior citizens – food, accommodation, care and medical needs.
-Provide subsidy or loans and support for Assisted Living or senior care Homes.
-Set up care facilities or homes specifically for elderly COVID-19 patients.
-Release the 2nd tranche of Rs. 6000 assistance under Kisan Samman Nidhi.
-Raise awareness among the illiterate urban and rural elderly and undertake special efforts to explain & demonstrate safety measures against Covid19.
-Set up special PDS distribution points for the elderly.
-Create awareness about the senior care sector and frame policies for faster development of the senior care industry.
-Create a uniform set of guidelines that can be implemented across the sector that will leverage home healthcare workers for monitoring of elderly.
-Provide essential healthcare services like medical insurance in a safe and secure environment for elderly.