Taking care of our older people

Missing family, social activities and important events are just some of the challenges older people living in our community are experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Whittlesea has partnered with the Victorian branch of the Council on The Ageing (COTA) to find out how older residents are feeling so that they can be better supported.

A survey of 1,146 older people in Victoria, including 231 from the City of Whittlesea, found the top five challenges were:

  1. I don’t get to be with my family
  2. Not being able to go to weekly activities such as social groups, churches, sport
  3. Social Isolation
  4. Missing important life events, for example, funerals/weddings/birthdays
  5. Not being able to get out and be active.

The results are being released as part of activities planned for International Day of Older People, which runs throughout the entire month of October.

Over the past few months, Council has reimagined its services and activities that support older people to reduce feelings of loneliness.

“Our older residents are certainly facing challenges, most of which centre around loneliness and isolation,” Administrator, Ms Peita Duncan said.

“However, they have also shown great resilience during this pandemic, enhancing their technology capability and actively participating in online sessions including mental health support, seniors’ rights activities and exercise classes.”

Council’s Uplift and Connect program has brought older people together through video conferencing with regular conversations covering selfcare, hobbies, gardening, healthy diet, travel and sports.

“It was important too that Council acknowledge older people who speak a language other than English, so we have facilitated conversations in community languages such as Greek, Macedonian and Italian,” Ms Duncan said.

The survey results will help Council further understand the needs of older people, which make up 12 per cent of the City of Whittlesea’s population, to ensure recovery initiatives are inclusive.

As noted by the survey

“I am feeling anxious about my own health and wellbeing and that of my family, the increasing levels of virus in the community and its impact, feeling anxious about the future – how will we move on safely to a new normal without a vaccine to protect us and what will our lives be like”.

“We are rarely leaving our home. We isolate our groceries for three days before bringing them into the house and disinfect/sanitize the fridge things. So, we regard our home as a safe zone”.

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