Elderly advocate says continued Covid isolation is becoming 'exceptionally' difficult for Cork pensioners

Elderly advocate says continued Covid isolation is becoming 'exceptionally' difficult for Cork pensioners

Paddy O’Brien said that he is “most concerned about the elderly people who have no contact whatsoever with home helps or public health nurses” and that they should be considered as high priority to receive the vaccine. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A well-known advocate of the elderly in Cork has expressed concern over the 13,500 people over the age of 70 across the city and the county who are living alone during the current lockdown.

Paddy O’Brien said that he is “most concerned about the elderly people who have no contact whatsoever with home helps or public health nurses” and that they should be considered as high priority to receive the vaccine.

“In the city and the county we have 13,500 people living alone, about 4,200 of those are in the city, and some of these people have not left their house since March,” he said.

He said that there are elderly people in their 70s, 80s and 90s who have been forgotten about as people have become more nervous during this lockdown.

“Neighbours in the community have been great throughout the pandemic but they are also nervous to go near elderly people too and I understand that”, he said.

However, he asked that people speak through the window or make a phone call and ask them are they okay for food and heating which he said is “vital”.

“We hear a lot about people in nursing homes getting the vaccination but the eldery at home are in the same situation.

“Before, they could have a son or daughter or a neighbour call to help with jobs but now they are trying to cook for themselves, trying to light a fire themselves and administer their own medication and they’re lonely because they cannot see anyone.

“I'm not exaggerating when I say this, I really think that it's a miracle that in the last 10 months we’ve had no fatalities amongst the elderly at home because it's a totally new and strange life for them.

“They’re sad, depressed, lonely and just confined to their own home, finding it exceptionally difficult to live any sort of normal life,” he said.

Mr O’Brien said that it was easier for people back in the summer months when the weather was suitable for people to make use of their back gardens but that the bad weather now prevents people from getting outdoors.

He paid tribute to carers and public health nurses but said that “something has to be done to ensure that our elderly people are checked on and not forgotten about”.

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