The impact of COVID-19 has been felt by older people across the UK, with three in five (60%) over-65s unable to get enough supplies to cover their day to day needs, shows a survey by older people’s charity Independent Age. 

Carried out between March 20 and 24, the poll found that three in four over-65s had already significantly limited their social contact, and more than two-thirds felt anxious or worried about the impact of COVID-19. 

The Independent Age poll of 489 UK adults aged over 65, carried out by Opinium, also revealed that close to one in eight people – 12% - had heard or been on the receiving end of negative language about older people in relation to COVID-19.

Where people struggled to get enough household supplies (60%), buying sufficient food was the most significant issue, with almost two-thirds (64%) unable to buy enough to meet their day to day needs. Well over half (58%) struggled to get enough toilet paper, while nearly a third (31%) had difficulty getting the medicine and healthcare supplies they needed. 

Close to one in seven (14%) said they had been affected financially by COVID-19. 

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said that the survey results laid bare the challenges faced by older people during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“There are some things that we can’t control in relation to this coronavirus (COVID-19), but one thing we absolutely can control is how we treat each other. To hear that one in eight older people had heard ageist language relating to this pandemic is appalling, and we must do better. 

“Older people, particularly those aged over 70, are at higher risk from COVID-19, so the levels of anxiety being experienced are certainly very understandable. It’s incumbent upon all of us to do what we can to reach out to our older friends, family and neighbours – a simple phone call can make a remarkable difference in lifting someone’s mood and getting them through the day.

“We’re very concerned to see that nearly two in three people are struggling to get their day to day essentials. It’s essential that people heed the advice that is being given by supermarkets and the Government, and think about others when they’re doing their grocery shopping – including respecting special shopping hours or delivery windows for older and vulnerable people.

“We commissioned this survey to better understand the pressure points that older people are dealing with right now, in order to inform the support services we provide. This week we’re contacting every older person who uses our services to check on their welfare, and we’re working on new ways to support them in the coming weeks and months.”

Other key findings of the Independent Age poll carried out by Opinium include:

  • 87% said they felt they had been given enough guidance on how to reduce their risk of contracting the virus. 
  • 85% said they had been receiving information about the pandemic from news media, 53% had been using Government websites, and 17% said they had been getting information from social media. 
  • Close to three in 10 people (29%) of people who had been struggling to get supplies said they had difficulty getting basic toiletries like soap and shampoo. 

Independent Age has advice on how to connect with older friends, family and neighbours – and how older people can stay connected – at its website, www.independentage.org

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