New project launched to explore effects of COVID-19 social distancing on people aged over 70

A new research project has been launched to explore the effects of social distancing and isolation on people aged over 70 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research, conducted by Birmingham City University's Professor Joanne Brooke and Dr Maria Clarke, will examine the challenges older people are facing in social isolation, including loneliness, organising the delivery of essential items and separation from friends and family.

The project comes as governments and health authorities across the globe advise older people to adhere to strict social isolation measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through a series of telephone interviews with people aged over 70, the researchers hope to gain a greater understanding of the lived experience of the people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those participating in the research will be interviewed every two weeks between April and July, to understand the impact of self-isolation over time and this will continue until government recommendations to social distance are lifted.

Researchers will evaluate the needs of individuals during this time and how well they are met, with participants including both people who live alone and those who live with someone - usually a spouse.

Professor Brooke, Director of Birmingham City University's Centre for Social Care, Health and Related Research explained:

Social isolation impacts negatively on both the physical and mental health of this age group. Therefore, it is important to understand these risks, and how we can address them during the current pandemic, to support older people to maintain their health beyond the coronavirus.

We aim to develop recommendations and guidelines to support older people during isolation, which will be relevant for this pandemic and to understand the significance of social distancing for older people following this pandemic."
 

To date, 18 people living in the Midlands, North of England and Republic of Ireland have signed up to take part in the study.

The findings hope to contribute to a set of practical guidance measures to help over 70s cope with social isolation, as well as developing resources for families, carers and health workers.

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