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Home Alone in COVID

If you live alone, lockdown can be a challenge. It is natural to need human contact. For older people it can be particularly confronting and isolating. About 27% of elderly people live alone, while about 5% live in care. We do not hear much about these vulnerable people. Of these elderly people living alone, most are women.

The number of people living is increasing in Western countries. Australia is no exception. The longer lockdown progresses, the more isolated one feels – particularly if one is older and living alone. This occurs even when some of these people in other less stressful times, when they could get out and about, lived quite successfully alone. It is common knowledge that older people are most vulnerable to COVID. Several elderly residents are likely to experience disturbed sleep because of anxiety. Some elderly residents are likely to be fearful to go to shop for their food and necessities as they did pre-COVID. Whatever socialising they did has been severely and abruptly halted. It is an accepted fact that social isolation increases the risks of mortality. Isolation also increases the chance of the onset of depression.

If there are elderly people in your building, give a thought to contacting them and see how they are coping. Explore if they have a mobile phone or a computer and perhaps suggest Facetime calls or Zoom.  Also, if you are shopping, you might ask if they need anything from the shops or help them shop online.

About a week ago, Premier Berejiklian said “through various services, we do have support for people who are isolated,” She said “For those who cannot obtain essential goods and services, we do have the exception for people, for carers, to go and support them. So there are multiple ways to support people who do live on their own.” But some older people don’t know how to get help and/or are to shy to ask someone for help.

Like in war time, this is a time to reach out to our elderly neighbours who live alone and see that they are ok or if they need some help or just some good old-fashioned human contact.

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