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Tackling loneliness during COVID-19 outbreak

13 March 2020


Age Scotland is encouraging people to look out for older friends, neighbours and relatives who may be staying home due to concerns over coronavirus.

Older people are more likely to be affected by the virus, especially if they have underlying health conditions. Some members of vulnerable groups are choosing to limit their social contacts, while many regular events and meetings have been cancelled across Scotland.

Age Scotland is recommending that everyone follow NHS guidelines, but has warned that older people could be at increased risk of loneliness and isolation if they choose to stay at home, missing out on regular social occasions.

Many older people may also need help with practical tasks, such as ordering groceries or caring for pets.

The charity is sharing tips on how to help people stay connected while minimising the risk of infection.

Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said:

“We know that older people and those with underlying health conditions may feel more vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak and as a result they might choose not to go out and socialise as much as they would normally.

"At this stage the NHS and Scottish Government advice is to stay at home only if you have the symptoms of coronavirus, including a fever and a cough.

"We would urge people who are well and have had no contact with others from high risk parts of the world to think about older people in their community who might be feeling anxious and alone.

"Some older people will be having fewer visits from family who live further afield, because they are unable to travel, so a friendly call or knock on the door could make a huge difference to their day.

"Being a good neighbour by checking in with vulnerable older people to offer to pop to the shops for them or pick up medication will go a long way to reducing loneliness and isolation. It will also help bring communities together at a challenging time for everyone.

"This is an opportunity to see the best of Scotland, to help and look out for another. Let's start by supporting older family, friends and neighbours."

Age Scotland’s 10 top tips:
• Stay in regular touch with older friends, relatives and neighbours by phone, email or video calls
• Don't forget snail mail - everyone loves getting letters and postcards, or just a note through the door
• Check if someone needs repeat medication picking up
• If someone is self-isolating, offer to pick up groceries or other essentials and leave them on the doorstep
• Find out if someone would like help to set up an online delivery, or do it on their behalf
• Make sure the person has plenty of entertainment such as books, magazines or puzzles
• Consider if you can offer help with pets
• Try agreeing to watch the same TV programme and calling for a chat about it afterwards
• Encourage people to stay active if they are self-isolating - whether that's moving around the house or a walk away from crowded areas
• Find out the services available in your area from local councils, charities and other organisations


People can also call the Age Scotland helpline for advice or a friendly chat on 0800 12 44 222.

The most recent NHS advice on coronavirus can be found here.