New Delhi, May 13
Around 82.4 per cent elderly are dealing with health anxiety issues due to rising COVID-19 cases and fatalities around them, a new study has claimed.
The study has compiled data of interactions with more than 5,000 elderly over the past month.
India added 3,62,727 new coronavirus infections in a day taking the COVID-19 tally of cases to 2,37,03,665, while the death toll rose to 2,58,317 with 4,120 daily fatalities, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.
The active cases have increased to 37,10,525 comprising 15.65 per cent of the total infections.
The study by Agewell Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, has also found that around 70.2 per cent elderly were found suffering from sleeplessness, insomnia or nightmares due to poor quality of sleep.
“It was established that major problems being faced by older people include – health anxiety, sleeplessness, panic attacks, depression, irritation, unceasing stress, nightmares, feeling of emptiness, fear of contracting coronavirus, loss of appetite, and anxiety-related to the uncertain future,” it said.
“According to data analysis, approximately 82.4 per cent older people, reportedly, are complaining of health anxiety due to rising COVID-19 cases and casualties around them during the past month,” a statement from the not-for-profit said.
During the past month, it was also found that 63 per cent elderly have developed symptoms of depression due to loneliness or social isolation, and 63.3 per cent also complained of unceasing stress, it said.
Around 55 per cent elderly reportedly claimed that they are also feeling weakness or fatigue due to a changed lifestyle, restrictions and other factors, the study found.
At the same time more than a half of them that is. 52.2 per cent also complained of loss of appetite during the past month, it said.
“During the past month of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an overall rise of 50 per cent in the number of older people seeking counselling / help for psychological issues like depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, fear, stress, sense of loneliness / isolation etc,” Himanshu Rath, founder, Agewell Foundation, said.
Most older persons, despite having access to resources, are finding themselves to be helpless and vulnerable due to the fast-spreading coronavirus, he said.
This has devastated their peace of mind and life. They need urgent help in the form of counselling, useful tips and information, health care as well as emotional support, Rath said.
In most families, older people “are no longer allowed to look after or interact with their grandchildren, no visitors are welcome and their involvement in daily household activities are shunned, terming them as potential threats to the health of the entire family”, the statement from the NGO said.
The non-profit which has been working with the elderly since 1999 made a slew of recommendations which included more time for the elderly from family members, door-step healthcare support systems, organizing recreational or entertainment activities for older persons through social or electronic media and encouraging their participation in such activities to keep them engaged among other things. PTI