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Older people have to find new ways to cope with isolation

The pandemic puts the elderly at risk of losing touch with their friends and family. One British man in self-isolation explained how he’s coping with the unpredictable situation.

By Roosa Welling, Lily Burris and Angel Hui

Those were the days, the South family enjoying a barbeque together… Now 83-year-old Colin South (bottom left) has to isolate by himself at his home in UK. Photo credit: Colin South.

For many older people across Europe, everyday things like shopping and visiting family members are no longer on the agenda because of the current COVID-19 situation.

The EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, recently addressed the issues older persons face and stated that no-one should be left behind.

“Older people living alone are at risk of isolation and lack of access to necessary services”, she wrote on Twitter in April.

That’s why a top thing on the elderly’s to-do list should be trying to find ways to cope with isolation and staying in touch with the people in their lives. 

83-year-old Colin South, from Reading, UK, lives in his home alone and has been self-isolating for more than seven weeks.

South’s partner, Judy, lives more than 25 miles from him at her own house. They have been together since 2006.

“I haven’t seen her since 14th of March. I really miss having face-to-face contact with her, although we do FaceTime every night and send numerous texts during the day”, South explains.

For things like groceries and medicines, South’s nearby-living daughters pick them up and leave them at his doorstep. One of his daughters shops on Tuesdays and the other one on Fridays.

While South can’t have things like football games picked up and brought to his door, he can still interact with his family in fun and creative ways.

“What we’ve found is one enterprising young man has gone to YouTube, and he does a pub quiz every Thursday evening”, he said. 

South and his children participate in this makeshift pub quiz in teams they’ve set up that include friends and family. South and his friends have also been emailing jokes back and forth and texting regularly.

Besides keeping in touch with the loved ones, South likes to keep himself busy by watching television, doing jigsaw puzzles, sudoku and crosswords and baking his own bread.

Even though he’s doing well right now, South doesn’t see there being any short-term end to the isolation.

“I’m coping alright at the moment, but whether I’ll still feel the same in another month’s time, I don’t know”, he said.

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