A Cork TD has called on the Government to bring forward measures to support older people who have been greatly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould said that the recently published Alliance of Age Sector NGOs’ Report highlights the need to focus on older people.
The Telling It Like It Is report draws together seven leading older persons organisations to capture the experiences of older people during Covid-19, the impact it had on their lives, and what now needs to happen to address this.
The Cork North Central TD said that the huge numbers applying for the Age Action Ireland Hardship Grant illustrated the struggle that elderly people went through with isolation and lockdowns.
He said that the Government have “shrugged their shoulders” in response to calls for supports for older people.
“For many young people who have also suffered during this time, the experience and wisdom from the older generations is vital. For older people who feel excluded from society, reconnecting with young people could renew their connections to the community.
“The Government need to come together and work with groups like the Alliance of Age Sector NGOs to ensure that older people aren't continually shut out,” he said.
The report’s analysis explains how many of the events that happened during the Covid-19 crisis saw older people die disproportionately and were bereaved disproportionately.
The pandemic also made older people feel as though their independence and decision-making was reduced and that underlying ageism was heightened.
The report also highlighted older people in nursing homes who became subject to what was allowed and permitted and those whose relatives and friends lived in care settings and were unable to visit them properly for months.
Alliance member and Irish Senior Citizens Parliament CEO Sue Shaw said: “The pandemic affected everybody in different ways, and of course public health actions needed to be taken to protect health and lives were saved. However, this account shows that for most older people the negative effects of the pandemic restrictions were very significant, wide-reaching and diminished their role in society. It took away older people’s right to make their own decisions.
“These side-effects – loss of confidence and capacity, loneliness, isolation, anxiety, depression – were very harmful,” she said.
Alliance member and The Alzheimer Society of Ireland CEO Pat McLoughlin said that ageism was “lurking behind many of the decisions that were made”.
“There seemed to be little consultation with older people or with NGOs. More comprehensive consideration of how pandemic measures might impact on older people would have helped to avoid the kinds of unintended consequences reported in Telling It Like It Is,” he said.