The COVID 19 pandemic, and the measures taken to manage it, have been with us for over two years.
Even though many older Australians have developed resilience in the face of the many stressful demands of a long life, research to date has highlighted that this is not the case for everybody. The Covid 19 pandemic has introduced new and unexpected pressures and demands for older people, and especially for those who were already vulnerable.
While physical illnesses and injuries are perhaps easier to recognise and treat, it is the impact on our emotions, and on our mental wellbeing, that has attracted a lot of attention, and it is this area that COTA Australia most wants to focus on and bring to the attention of government and policy-makers.
We are doing this by working with the National Mental Health Commission to ask you how the COVID 19 pandemic has affected you. Your lived experience will make a difference.
How can I get involved?
The survey and call for volunteers has now closed, and we’re busy interviewing people, and analyzing the data.
What we have heard to date…
Many people have already responded and added their voices to this project. We have received phone messages, interviews and many powerful submissions from people all over Australia.
Below are some excerpts from submissions we have received, reproduced with kind permission of the authors:
‘I resolved to be strong as I was born in London during the blitz and if my Mum could cope alone with being bombed with a new baby then I should breeze through a little green ball of a virus…. As to my mental stability I did talk to my pets a lot and my one neighbour over the fence. I thought life alone would be hard but I ended up quite liking my solitude but it didn’t last long! I feel the initial panic, government and media overkill influenced me making me anxious, worried etc.
Now two years later I feel that poverty due to covid has caused problems not only for seniors but the community in general.’
Because of all the restrictions in socialising, I am now in the habit of not socialising – to my detriment. I doubt if my pre-covid joie de vivre will ever return.’
‘I spent 9 weeks in hospital…every time I was transferred to a different facility, I gained (?) another 14 days quarantine… I came home and took on my caring role again [for my husband]… On doctor’s advice my husband was admitted to a nursing home due to my health and mobility problems.…My husband passed away and I needed help that was difficult to access. I relied on paying for essential assistance myself.
As a result I struggled with depression and felt isolated. But I was fortunate to be naturally optimistic. I told myself KEEP SMILING, KEEP POSITIVE, Reach out. It took a lot of rehab, exercise and physio to regain some mobility. I received counselling, volunteer home visits and a subscription to online concerts gave me the emotional strength to battle the depression.
I now manage much better as I can actually leave my home independently… am confident that whatever Covid deals out I will manage with help and a positive mindset.’
‘It did make me frustrated at times and as busily as I could I distracted myself with multiple interests and online activities … My number one thing was to increase my physical activity.
The second main focus was distraction. I explored everything I could online, read more, gardened more and made more phones calls.
I looked for more humour and tried to share this with online friends to help them.
I did more cooking and experimented more with food and its presentation and where allowed cooked for friends.
When it was permissible, I played more bridge and also played regularly on line’