Survey examines COVID impact on elderly

THE City of Whittlesea has partnered with the Victorian branch of the Council on The Ageing, COTA, to find out how the city’s older residents are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A survey found that missing family, social activities and important events were some of the challenges older Whittlesea residents have faced during the pandemic.

A survey of 1146 older people across Victoria, including 231 from the City of Whittlesea, found the top five challenges were: not getting to spend time with family; not being able to go to weekly activities such as social groups, churches and sport; social isolation; missing important life events such as funerals, weddings and birthdays; and not being able to get out and be active.

Among responses included in the survey were feeling of anxiousness about ‘my own health and wellbeing and that of my family, the increasing levels of virus in the community and its impact, [and] feeling anxious about the future’.

Respondents also reported ‘rarely leaving our home. We isolate our groceries for three days before bringing them into the house and disinfect/sanitise the fridge things’.

The results were released as part of activities planned throughout October relating to International Day of Older People.

Council administrator Peita Duncan said during the past few months council had reviewed its services and activities that support older people to reduce feelings of loneliness.

“Our older residents are certainly facing challenges, most of which centre around loneliness and isolation,” she said.

“However, they have also shown great resilience during this pandemic, enhancing their technology capability and actively participating in online sessions including mental health support, seniors’ rights activities and exercise classes.”

Council’s Uplift and Connect program has connected older people through video conferencing with regular conversations covering self-care, hobbies, gardening, healthy diet, travel and sports.

“It was important too that council acknowledge older people who speak a language other than English, so we have facilitated conversations in community languages such as Greek, Macedonian and Italian,” Ms Duncan said.

The survey results will help council understand the needs of older residents, who make up 12 per cent of the city’s population, to ensure recovery initiatives are inclusive.

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