Many over-70s in Donegal are too afraid to leave home despite easing of restrictions

Call service reports some older people too fearful to venture out

Elderly people afraid to go out despite easing of lockdown restrictions

Elderly people afraid to go out despite easing of lockdown restrictions

The idea of over-70s being completely cocooned in their own homes seemed a near impossibility when the idea was first mooted.

But it soon proved to be necessary and the vast majority of Donegal people in that age group have complied with the guidelines.

However with an easing of restrictions underway, a telephone service for older people says callers are telling them that they are fearful of venturing out.

SeniorLine believes that getting older people out and into society could prove to be a difficult task.

And this is hardly surprising given that for over nine weeks, older people have heard they are safe only at home.

A spokesperson said: “Leaving home can seem somehow unsafe, even dangerous.  

“Some callers are nervous about managing social distancing, others find shops a minefield.  

“Most are fearful because the virus is still around and there is as yet no vaccine.”

SeniorLine is a programme of Third Age, Ireland’s not for profit organisation, working for and with older people to help them live well and age better.  Third Age is committed to the social engagement of older people, and is all too aware of the negative effects on mental and emotional health if people are isolated at home, particularly if the reason is fear of going out.  

CEO of Third Age Aine Brady said: “We understand and support that the reasons for segregating over-70s at the start of this epidemic was for their own protection.   But now we need a different conversation.

“This isolation has had a negative effect on the mental health and resilience of some, and added to depression.  They need to be reassured that they can go out safely.  They need to be reminded of the value of having a fuller life, and they need to be given clear guidelines that they can follow. 

“Our SeniorLine volunteers are providing these to our callers, but a more public message needs to go out as well.”

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