Supporting social connectedness for older people during the pandemic – what role can technology play?
The increase in social isolation and risk of loneliness for older people has been a characteristic of the pandemic. Lockdowns and fear related to risk of contracting COVID-19 have led to older people limiting their movements and social contact. Social isolation and loneliness impact very negatively on the wellbeing of older people, increasing their risk of anxiety, depression, cognitive dysfunction, heart disease and mortality. Ageism has been brought into stark focus in the recent COVID-19 crisis where we saw many older people dying of COVID-19 and a significant lack of investment in care homes saw deaths there contributing to around half of all deaths in several European countries. Further there were disturbing trends in social media with hashtags describing COVID-19 such as #boomerremover that reflected broader ageism.