February 9, 2021
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has heightened existing feelings of loneliness and isolation among people aged 55 and over, according to a new report by housing provider Central and Cecil (C&C).
The C&C Loneliness and Isolation report, includes findings from a study of 250 residents living at C&C sheltered housing schemes across London. All residents are aged 55 or over, most live alone and many are classified as ‘vulnerable’ or ‘extremely vulnerable’ to the Covid-19 virus.
– 29 percent of residents had felt feelings of loneliness and/or isolation at least once a month even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. This rose to 38 percent since the first lockdown started in March 2020.
– Three-quarters of residents who already felt lonely or isolated monthly stated that these feelings had intensified during the pandemic.
– 12 percent of residents now report feelings of loneliness or isolation daily or weekly.
The extent to which residents report loneliness and isolation on a daily/weekly or monthly basis suggests that the problem is more serious than other studies might suggest. For example, the latest available ONS research (from November 2020) cited 8 percent as always/often feeling lonely (12 percent in the C&C report) while a Mental Health Foundation study said 24 percent of UK adults felt lonely as a result of Covid-19 (compared to 38 percent in the C&C report).
Residents on hand to offer advice for others
Among the 62 percent of C&C residents who have not experienced feelings of loneliness and isolation, there were several examples provided of how they manage to cope during the pandemic.
Over half (58 percent) said that speaking with family and friends was the best coping mechanism for dealing with these emotions, followed by joining a local activity, starting a new hobby or similar (55 percent) and going for a local walk (43 percent).
Many C&C residents were happy to provide advice and tips for others who are alone and vulnerable to manage loneliness and isolation. Salim, for example, discovered a new passion for cooking at the age of 70, while Myriam took up ballet for the first time in her life.
Julia Ashley, Chief Executive, C&C said: “Our findings demonstrate the extent to which over-55s, especially those who are alone and vulnerable, need a variety of support mechanisms to keep them connected and engaged during these challenging times.
“People are vulnerable both physically and mentally.”
“We know from a number of residents that there are still many things you can do that can help manage any feelings of being lonely. Completing puzzles, knitting, and using helplines such as the Samaritans were all ways in which residents identified as being able to manage. Three in five of our residents are now online and regularly go on the internet to stay connected and engaged.
“But we know there is a significant challenge presenting itself to some of the most vulnerable people in society. Being classified as vulnerable means you are likely to have physical or mental health concerns, and in a number of cases, people are vulnerable both physically and mentally. They are therefore the group that needs to be top priority in receiving help and support in order to stay connected, engaged, and safe.”
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