Lockdown has had a huge impact on Dundee’s elderly population, with thousands of pensioners suffering from loneliness and isolation.
That’s according to Dundee Pensioners’ Forum, which said that many of the city’s 12,000-plus over 75s were also struggling to adapt to digital almost overnight.
Forum secretary Dorothy McHugh said: “This pandemic, and the necessary restrictions imposed, has had a huge impact on loneliness and isolation.
“Many older people depended on meeting in groups and at clubs for their social interaction.
“All of these have stopped and older people are confined at home, not seeing friends or family.”
Dorothy added: “The tragedy of what has happened in the care home sector touches us all – and is a frightening reminder to many older people of just how vulnerable they are to decisions made about their care by people sitting around a distant table.
“It was difficult enough to have older people’s voices heard before the pandemic, it has been well-nigh impossible during it.”
Dorothy said mental health issues were exacerbated by not knowing what the ‘new normal’ would look like – and older people were well aware they were especially vulnerable to
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She said: “We’ve also read and heard it said that older people dying from the virus is only to be expected – since they would probably be dead in a few months anyway.
“That’s not actually the case. Despite a much lower increase in life expectancy since 2011 than in previous decades, the Office of National Statistics predicts average life expectancy for a 75-year-old male to be 12 years and a female, 14 years. Slightly longer than a few months.”
Dorothy said pensioners were “immensely grateful” to the army of volunteers in Dundee who helped with shopping and prescriptions, but for many the new digital age was proving a challenge.
She said: “The problem is that much of the information and signposting to this help has been promoted online – and many older people are digitally excluded.
“Especially difficult for our older members – those over 80 – who, with the best will in the world, will never become digitally active.”
The forum is doing all it can to keep members informed and connected and posts a fortnightly newsletter but admits “it has not been easy”.
Dorothy added: “We are a campaigning organisation – and rely on meeting with our members to identify issues that concern them. We haven’t met as a group since March and it seems unlikely we will be able to do so for some months to come. Difficult times are ahead.”