Alone, the organisation which supports older people, is highlighting the importance of physical movement for joint health in older people.
Alone is concerned about the physical, mental and social challenges that older people will face as they break their period of social isolation and readjust to a new normal, and has previously emphasised the need for a plan for Older Adults to be established, as older people receive their vaccines and begin to return to society.
Global experts have highlighted the need to increase or maintain physical activity during the Covid-19 pandemic in order to maintain good physical health. According to a study conducted by TILDA, 21.5 percent of adults aged 65 and over experience frailty, with 40 percent experiencing pre-frailty symptoms.
Alone stated that while frailty is not a universal experience among all older people, many individuals are currently experiencing frailty in some form as a result of prolonged periods of cocooning in order to protect themselves from COVID-19. The organisation has cited this ongoing issue as one of the reasons that the Government must urgently establish a re-emergence plan for older people, with input from a stakeholder group for older adults.
The HSE interim report on the impact of cocooning measures on older people found that cocooning and social isolation had a marked impact on physical health, stating that Government restrictions on social activity and participation of older people may contribute to the development of a number of long-term health risks and increase the risk of COVID-19 infection and severity. In addition to the physical impact of increased frailty, individuals may also experience reduced independence and increased levels of social isolation, which can in turn have a detrimental impact on mental health and wellbeing.
“We are highlighting the physical impacts of this pandemic on older people, particularly the impact of cocooning on their physical health.
“Long periods of physical inactivity while cocooning may result in deconditioning and loss of muscle mass, leading to frailty and an increased fall risk among older people. Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls, mostly at home, and falls are the leading cause of injury, disability and admission to nursing homes for this group.
“It is clear that the pandemic will have a detrimental effect on the physical and mental health of vulnerable groups such as older people, and it is up to us to ensure that steps are taken now to develop a re-emergence plan for vulnerable adults.
“In order to do this, we are seeking to establish a stakeholder group for Older Adults composed of representatives from Civil Society, Healthcare, Age Organisations, supportive groups for Vulnerable Adults and the relevant Government Departments, in order to address the issues arising as older and more vulnerable individuals begin to re-emerge into society,” Seán Moynihan, CEO of Alone, stated.
Contact Alone if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person you know. Their National Support Line is available seven days a week from 8am to 8pm on (0818 ) 222024. Further information can be found on www.alone.ie