Bengaluru: Lockdown loneliness hits elderly hard | Bengaluru News – Times of India


With their children unable to visit and walks to parks cancelled, the elderly are noticeably more anxious

BENGALURU: With Lockdown 4.0 extended till May-end, loneliness has started taking a toll on senior citizens. With their children unable to travel back home, retirement homes not allowing children to meet their aged parents, walks to parks cancelled and constant fear of being more susceptible to the virus, the elderly are noticeably more anxious, and it’s beginning to show.
“My father stays in a retirement home just 1km from my residence. But, the place doesn’t allow any visitors for fear of the virus spreading. While that is understandable, it’s been over two months since we visited him. He misses his family and home-cooked food which were part of his routine. Many elderly persons are slowly sinking in to depression,” says a resident of Koramangala.
Geriatric psychologists and psychiatrists say it’s time measures are taken up for the general well-being of the elderly. “One problem is the morbid fear the elderly live with due to an information overload. With the constant reminder that elderly are very susceptible to the virus, they’re constantly worry. We should remind them of several patients in this age group who have recovered,” said Dr Debanjan Banerjee, geriatric psychiatrist, Nimhans.
Dr Banerjee suggests an elderly person should speak to at least two people every day and engage in some physical activity. “Many are not tech savvy, others have hearing, vision or memory issues. Social connections are important for all,” he said.
His colleague Dr Sojan Anthony advocates a buddy system where a young volunteer can make friends with an older person, have conversations once or twice a day and develop companionship. “While young people can learn and adapt faster to change, ageing brains cannot,” he said
Some old age homes say they have seen an increase in restlessness among their guests. “In order to increase socialisation, our daycare centre has been conducting online programmes with physical, cognitive and group exercises so that the elderly see their peers and bond better,” said Radha S Murthy, managing trustee, Nightingales Medical Trust.
The helplines are also seeing an increase in elderly abuse cases. “With families spending so much time at home, the elderly have lost some amount of their space and time, and their autonomy is affected. This leads to frustration and aggressive behaviour,” said Dr Anthony.
The Nimhans helpline has received 16 calls in the past month as against six it used to get on an average every month. The 1090 helpline received 6-7 calls recently.

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Sagar Biswas

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