Age UK is calling on the country to come together to help the Charity raise £10 million for its Coronavirus Emergency Appeal, so it can be there for older people who desperately need its support during this unprecedented health emergency.
Evidence from around the world shows clearly that it is older people, especially from the age of 70 upwards, who are most likely to become very seriously ill and even die if they contract the Coronavirus. This is why the Government’s rules that everyone around the country needs to stay at home are vital in protecting people in this age group, as well as those who have not yet reached this age but who have underlying health conditions. It’s not clear how long these stay at home rules will last for, but for older people it’s likely to stretch into many months.
This is, of course, for everyone’s own protection, to help keep the country and vulnerable people safe from the life threatening virus, but it means millions of older people face a miserable and frightening time alone – and it’s important to remember that significant numbers are already dealing with multiple difficulties already, such as unmet care needs, chronic ill health, disability and loneliness. There is a very real risk that this health emergency makes these challenges intolerably worse.
In addition, older people are watching television coverage of supermarkets cleared out of basic foodstuffs and wondering how they will manage to get by.
Some older people are fortunate and have family and friends to help, and there is no doubt that many communities are rising to the challenge and rallying round to offer support. But the Charity’s biggest worry is for those millions of older people who are on their own, who do not have family and friends nearby or at all. In addition, from the age of 75 upwards the majority of older people do not use the internet and so are unable to connect virtually with the world beyond their own four walls. The telephone and community support will be utterly crucial for them in the deeply challenging months to come – it may literally be all that they will have to rely on.
In these incredibly difficult circumstances older people will be in dire need of friendly and reliable practical support, information and advice, and friendship – which it may not be possible to offer face to face any more but which are still accessible, and all the more precious, via the telephone and for those who are hard of hearing, the post.
It is sobering to think that we are only at the beginning of this health emergency and already Age UK’s telephone Advice Line has seen a 56% increase in demand, while The Silver Line has experienced an increase in calls from older people who are deeply anxious, depressed and in desperate need of reassurance and friendship.
Meanwhile, local Age UKs up and down the country are racing to put the systems and processes in place with other local Age UKs so they can provide practical and emotional support to their older populations in the weeks and months to come. They are on the frontline of helping older people to pull through this incredibly difficult time and they know that as time goes on the numbers who will be crying out for their support are certain to rise.
Laurie Boult, Fundraising Director at Age UK said: “As a country we are all facing a terrible, invisible threat and it is older people who are at the greatest risk. We all need to play our part at this time by staying at home, but unfortunately this does have implications for our older population who are already struggling to cope and who are very much on their own.
“The reality is that in the weeks and months ahead older people are going to need Age UK in huge numbers, and to an extent we have never seen before. We are determined to rise to the challenge and be there – to provide comfort, hope and practical support. But we can only do it if we have the funds that it will take. This is why we are reaching out and launching this appeal. My message to everyone is please help us to help our older people through donating to this appeal – together we can make a big difference and help them pull through.”
As well as appealing for vital funds, Age UK is encouraging everyone who can to be a good neighbour to those around them by providing simple assistance for older people during the coronavirus outbreak. There are simple things everyone can do right now to help:
- Donate now: Demand for our vital services has increased rapidly. Help us keep our Information & Advice and friendship services running and help the local Age UKs provide practical help such as food parcels by donating at ageuk.org.uk/coronaappeal
- Keep in touch: phone your older relatives and friends to ask what they need – set up a rota with family and friends to make sure someone is regularly checking on them
- Lend a hand: if you’re feeling well, offer to pick up shopping for an older neighbour when you pick up your essential items. Remember that when you offer to go to the shops and when you drop off any shopping, you need to knock on the door and step 2 metres back first. Leave any bags on the doorstep making sure they safely receive them. Make sure that you do not go into their house
- Share these numbers: for practical information and advice, Age UK Advice: 0800 169 65 65. For a cheerful chat, day or night, The Silver Line: 0800 470 80 90
- Show you care: make homemade cards (a great project for kids), send postcards, write letters or even post small gifts to keep people’s spirits up
To donate to Age UK’s Emergency Coronavirus Appeal please visit: www.ageuk.org.uk/coronaappeal – online donations are the most effective way to reach the most in need at this time.