Older people faced the greatest restrictions associated with the pandemic, with many advised to ‘shield’ from the outside world which had an impact on elderly mental health.
A new qualitative study from researchers at the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Trinity College Dublin has shed light on the everyday experiences of elderly people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘Exploring Older People’s Experiences of Shielding During the COVID-19 Pandemic’, launched on October 28th, found that older people made significant efforts to self-protect from Covid-19.
However, this was at the expense of their physical and/or mental health.
While public health restrictions applied to the entire population, older people were advised to follow guidance which limited their daily lives.
Participants in the new report gave a first-hand account of their experience, and described their careful efforts to protect themselves.
One elderly participant in the study, describing their experiences, said, “I’m in the kitchen and I’m looking at four walls and when I get tired of those four walls. I go into the dining room and I look at a different four walls and then I go to the sitting room and I look at a different four walls again.”
The resilience of older people is a dominant feature of the report, researchers say. The collection of data occurred between January and March 2021.
Amanda Phelan, Professor in Ageing and Community Nursing and Principal Investigator of the study said, “older people have made significant efforts to self-protect in the pandemic, however, there has been consequences for both their physical and mental health. The impact has been most profound in the older age groups due a disproportionate impact in mortality and morbidity rates. We need a short-term plan of engaging in rehabilitation through comprehensive geriatric assessments and care plans.”
“While our study did not highlight safeguarding issues, it is also important to acknowledge that the conditions of the pandemic exacerbated elder abuse risk factors, and this may be occurring in Ireland under the radar of our data. Thus, a focus on awareness, prevention and early intervention are key considerations.”