Older People's Day 2020
Published on 01 October 2020 10:13 AM
This year is the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations and today is the 30th Anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons. We've seen massive changes in the lives of older people both in the last 75 years and in the last 30 years, characterised for many by longer and healthier lives.
The emergence of Coronavirus this year has meant a rapid change of lifestyle for many of us with lockdown restrictions for our communities and significant numbers of older people shielding for prolonged periods. Many of us have been isolated in our own homes, unable to see our loved ones in the way we usually do and unable to engage in our communities. It's been a time where changes in policies, law and the ways services have been delivered has led to uncertainty or anxiety for many.
The impact of the virus on older people and their experiences over the last six months have underlined the importance of ensuring older people’s voices are at the heart of decision making. What was striking about the early response to the virus in many quarters was the othering of older people, attitudes expressed in the media and on social media that underplayed the seriousness of the virus as the impact was largely on older people. Attitudes rooted in ageism that must be challenged.
On a more positive note, we also saw how communities came together to support older people, delivering shopping and prescriptions and being good neighbours.
We've worked with local Age Cymru partners, Cymru Older People’s Alliance, NPC Wales, Pensioners Forum Wales and the Welsh Senate of Older People to conduct a survey of older people’s experiences of Covid 19 and the subsequent lockdown to inform decision making. More than 1000 people responded to share their thoughts; and while we continue to analyse the detail, we're able to report that 78% of people told us their biggest challenge was not being able to see their family and friends while 30% said loneliness was their main challenge.
Together, Age Cymru staff and volunteers have worked hard to support older people through this challenging time. We've made more than 22,000 calls to older people through our Check in and Chat service and with the support of Welsh Government we have launched our Friend in Need service. Volunteers will make a weekly half hour friendship call to older people, to chat, to share experiences and make a difference to an older person’s day by being there. You can register as a volunteer
As we move into the winter months, and as more local lockdowns occur, our communities will need more good neighbours and people who make a difference both through formal and informal volunteering. Our Friends in Need pages have more information about how you can make a real difference to somebody's day.