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Elder Attitudes Survey

Elder Attitudes Survey: How COVID-19 is impacting the life and outlook of the elderly

The latest Elder Attitudes survey has explored how the elderly are coping in the ‘new normal’. The research, conducted in June 2020, explores the way in which COVID-19 is impacting lives and reshaping attitudes among the elderly – such as how they socialise, how they get about have been influenced by COVID-19, and what feel about their health.

It also looked to uncover the feelings regarding around the Government’s handling of the pandemic. It finds those in later life feel the over 80s have been the least prioritised group in the Government response to COVID-19. 

In general, it found the pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in fears around old age. With 61% worrying more about their general health, 51% about getting older and 65% more careful about managing existing health conditions. 

It also raised concerns about the ability of elderly people to get around. 48% of respondents ‘much less likely’ to use public transport – with 69% less likely to travel by bus and 61% less likely to use a train – forms of transport that are often seen as a lifeline for pensioners. 

For many elderly and vulnerable people, public transport is crucial, with more than a quarter of over 60’s using buses more than once a week according to the latest National Travel Statistics. 

Public transport enables access to medical appointments, essential shopping, and socialisation, and without which, many elderly people could be facing an increasing amount of time at home alone. 

Mobility challenges can mean walking and driving, which are commonly used methods of transport for many, are not possible for sustained distances, making public transport critical for maintaining independence.

Pete Dowds, CEO of Elder, the live-in care company behind the survey, said: 

‘This is a wakeup call that we need to do more to support the elderly – both practically and emotionally. We cannot allow shielding to create an out of sight, out of mind culture. 

These findings show COVID-19 could present a long-term erosion of elderly independence, with the fear of the virus impacting the ability of the elderly to live their life.

We know dealing with the immediate pandemic is a difficult balancing act. But we need to start thinking about the long-term implications for the most vulnerable’

As public transport undergoes changes to ensure the safety of its users, such as ensuring social distancing and making face coverings mandatory, it’s vital that the elderly and most vulnerable are considered, and that steps are put in place to help maintain independence. 

Whilst government advice to avoid public transport where possible remains, our most vulnerable who rely on these methods of transport for daily wellbeing, are depending on the assistance of others. 

Many charities and organisations are currently supporting the most vulnerable throughout shielding, but post COVID-19, the remaining hesitance of using public transport is posing a dangerous risk to independence and increasing loneliness for the elderly.  


Key findings

  • 61% worry more about their own general health since COVID-19
  • 51% worry more about getting older since COVID-19
  • 65% are more careful about managing existing health conditions since COVID-19
  • 48% ‘much less likely’ to catch public transport since COVID-19
  • 38% less likely to see friends or neighbours regularly since COVID-19
  • 65% more likely to walk – and 59% more likely to use a car, to get around since COVID-19
  • Most people think that working age group has been prioritised over older people, in the COVID-19 response
  • 47% have had to cancel a family gathering, and 40% a birthday or celebration because of COVID-19
  • No significant changes in the mental health question since we last asked it. 

You can view full dataset here

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