Loneliness in the elderly is already a big issue with Age UK estimating there are around 1.2 million chronically lonely people in Britain. Now there is a government-enforced lockdown, and with elderly people high at risk, they have less company now than they did before.
While social media is playing a big role in isolation for young people and allowing them to be connected, the same can’t be said for the elderly, with many going without basic IT skills.
Glenda Sheppard, an elderly woman in her 70s, explained how she lives alone and how she communicates,
“Well, I have my phone, but it’s hard when I only have a simple pay as you go phone that I don’t use that much. Everybody’s telling me to use Skype and the likes, but I just don’t have a clue and don’t have the facilities to learn.”
Margaret Bruff, a councillor for Barnsley central, heads up a scheme called “Barnsley for Safeguarding”, which aims to protect vulnerable people both young and old,
“Isolation has always been a big issue… and it’s good to see more people being aware now despite everything going on. I’m one of those people who is isolating because I’m older… I can’t even use things like Skype or Facetime and I have an iPhone so it does make me worry about other people who don’t even have that much.”
Despite more older people having social media accounts, with 38% of over 75s reported as having one (Statista), there are still those who don’t and don’t have the facilities.
Three weeks are left on this phase of isolation and with the possibility of more, it’s likely that the elderly will be forced to learn new communication skills to deal with any loneliness.