Edinburgh [Scotland], May 14 (ANI): COVID-19 quarantine according to the University of Stirling, has been a catalyst for many seniors to use technology, reconnect with friends, and build new relationships with neighbors. to investigate…
Understanding the coping mechanisms used by some people over the age of 60 during a pandemic will play a key role in developing interventions to help cope with loneliness, isolation and well-being in the future.
The study by the Faculty of Health and Sports Sciences surveyed 1,429 participants, 84 percent (1,198) of whom were over 60, and found that many of them had adapted to video conferencing technology to increase online contact with existing social networks. while others have reconnected. with previous networks. Participants reported that quarantine led them to interact with neighbors and other members of their communities for the first time, while some said social distancing added meaning to their lives by highlighting what was important to them.
The article, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, comes out six months after a study funded by the Scottish Government’s Rapid Research Office. COVID-19 program – reported in its preliminary findings that social distancing increases feelings of loneliness in older people.
Behavioral medicine professor Anna Whittaker, who led the study, said: “Our to investigate found that COVID-19 quarantine caused a feeling of loneliness in older people – many of them communicate less and do not support. However, the study also found positive results, such as quarantine encouraged some seniors to embrace and use technology such as Zoom, Whatsapp or FaceTime to stay in touch with loved ones or participate in exercise or religious groups. ”
Those engaged in such activities have been able to prevent high levels of loneliness, thereby helping older people improve their digital literacy. The use of remote social interactions can be a really important tool in dealing with the problem of loneliness.
“Participants also reported actively seeking new social contacts while restrictions were in certain places, such as hanging out with friends they hadn’t spoken to in years and increasing interaction with neighbors and other members of their communities. Significantly, many of our members reported that social distancing actually led them to seek new sources of satisfaction in their lives, ”Whittaker said.
“Our research has also shown that encouraging safe social contact through physical activity and interaction with people in the community can be an effective way to reduce loneliness, improve well-being, increase social activity and improve social support,” added Whittaker.
The study, which included a survey conducted between May and July 2020, examined the effects of social distancing during a pandemic on loneliness, well-being and social activity, including social support, in older adults in Scotland.
Participants were asked about the strategies they have used to increase social interaction during this time, and they reported that the way they interact with their friends and family, religion and, to a lesser extent, employer and colleagues, has changed. Over 300 attendees mentioned Zoom – a video conferencing tool – in their responses.
More than 150 participants reported that their religious gatherings had moved to the Internet, replacing in-person gatherings, while 91 participants said that community gatherings with family and friends had changed in favor of online “play nights.” New activities included bingo and quiz nights, while other events were moved online, such as bridge nights, book clubs, choir rehearsals, dance and exercise lessons.
The role of the community, especially neighbors, was mentioned by over 300 participants, and some reported general experiences of meeting previously unknown neighbors and increasing interaction with other community members in local shops or parks. The pleasant Scottish summer also encouraged this kind of interaction, according to some.
At least 100 people said social interactions were related to their physical activity – for example, time spent outdoors while walking, exercising, walking the dog, or active commuting.
Professor Whittaker added: “Our to investigate emphasizes the importance of addressing loneliness and social support for older people, but especially in situations where the risk of isolation is high. While this study is about a pandemic, it has broader implications in helping us understand the impact of social distancing and social isolation on older people.
“The results may be applicable in the future, both during and outside the pandemic. In Scotland, recommendations for improvement could be to encourage older people to get to know their neighbors better, to participate in local friendship systems and community initiatives, including through digital means and physical activity such as daily walks in the community. “
Brian Sloan, CEO of Age Scotland, said: “While it can be difficult to view any aspect of the pandemic as positive, it is important and worthwhile to reflect on what it has taught us, both about ourselves and society, and what the necessary tools are to tackling increased levels of loneliness and isolation in Scotland.
“For example, we have seen first hand how important the community response was in terms of supporting older people in all quarantine and it was inspiring to watch people across the country step in and come forward to help those in need around them. Despite the relaxation of restrictions, we hope that this sense of community will continue.
“Continuing influence COVID-19 also demonstrated how important advanced digital integration is and how easy it is for those without access to technology to feel out of touch. It is encouraging that so many seniors report that they have been able to embrace and use technology to stay connected and active.
“However, it is equally important to provide those who cannot or do not want to use the Internet, alternative ways to stay connected with their communities and maintain networks.
“As we take steps together towards recovery, it is vital that no one is left behind and that those who are most affected are supported so that they can play their full roles in society again.
“We know we will live with permanent consequences quarantine loneliness for a long time, and this to investigate will be incredibly valuable in considering how best to cope with loneliness and isolation and improve the well-being of older people in the future. ” (ANI)