'Loneliness is far worse than we realise': Call to help the elderly in Cork as Covid-19 crisis deepens

'Loneliness is far worse than we realise': Call to help the elderly in Cork as Covid-19 crisis deepens
Pictured at the St Michael's centre Bandon Co Cork is Colette O'Connor playing cards with pensioner John Joe Lyons who was the only customer out of the usual 8 players for the weekly Friday cards. Colette has announced the closure of the centre from Wednesday next for 2 weeks but the wheels on meals service shall not be effected. Picture Denis Boyle

The most vulnerable to the coronavirus must not be abandoned for the sake of their mental health, an advocate for the elderly has said.

Over 60s talent competition organiser Paddy O’Brien expressed his concern for elderly people who do not have any contact with people and who may be feeling lonely amidst the spread of Covid-19.

He said that he could not stress enough how important it is for locals, neighbours and family members to call on the elderly at a time like this.

“Keeping in contact with elderly people is the most important thing. What I suggest is dropping a note in the letterbox and telling them you are leaving things at the door, knock on the door and introduce yourself and offer help or to go to the shop. Exchange telephone numbers and ring people during the day.

“If a stranger comes up to an elderly person’s door sure they won’t open it. Elderly people will not take food from strangers so make yourself known to them and offer help,” he said.

He said that the elderly are struggling and that so many people living alone are living in fear because they have no contact with the outside world.

He said that the “loneliness is far worse than we realise” and “we must do more” for our most vulnerable.

St. Patrick street, Cork at 2 30 pm on Saturday during the Covid -19 virusPicture: Eddie O'Hare
St. Patrick street, Cork at 2 30 pm on Saturday during the Covid -19 virusPicture: Eddie O'Hare

“I’ve been saying it for a while. If people are full of anxiety, full of stress, full of fear, what happens is that people become depressed.

“Try and be positive, try and be happy. Things will improve, but we need people to look out for each other,” he said.

He stressed that fresh air and getting out of the house is very important for the mental and physical health of elderly people who are otherwise cooped up indoors.

“Fresh air is very important. Medical professionals have said that you must get fresh air and if you’re any way mobile, go for a walk, walk around the green, walk around outside your house.

“What’s vital to the non spreading of the virus is let the air in, ventilate your house, open the windows,” he said.

Marlboro street, Cork at 3 pm on Saturday during the Covid -19 virusPicture: Eddie O'Hare
Marlboro street, Cork at 3 pm on Saturday during the Covid -19 virusPicture: Eddie O'Hare

Mr O’Brien said that elderly who are mobile should not be afraid to get out for a walk or to do their shopping. He commended the supermarkets who have dedicated shopping hours for elderly.

He assured elderly that a lot of supermarkets are abiding to social distancing rules with markings on the floor and supermarket staff wearing gloves where he said there is no direct contact with anyone.

“Don’t confine yourself indoors, come out and wear plenty of clothes, wear a hat, wear a scarf, wear gloves and walk around the house. You’ll generate heat in your own body.

“The elderly people are nervous to come out and a lot of them don’t know what the symptoms are. They’re afraid to speak to people, they’re afraid to come out to the door,” he said.

He commended the HSE for their useful and frequent advice for elderly people.

“I must say the HSE have to be complimented for the advice they’re giving,” he said.

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