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Older people felt 'cancelled' during Covid-19 due to Ireland's 'endemic' ageism, report finds

The report says older people’s health deteriorated during the pandemic and the incidence of depression rose.

IRELAND’S “ENDEMIC” AGEISM was unleashed by the Covid-19 pandemic, a new report from seven older persons organisations has claimed.

The report found that if discrimination against the elderly had not been so prevalent in Ireland the effects of the coronavirus crisis on older people would have been less severe.

The research noted that older people died disproportionately during the pandemic and it found that frequently their end-of-life wishes were not sought or honoured.

Older people were also found to be bereaved disproportionately and restrictions on funerals, bereavement and consolation caused deep distress that will “reverberate for a long time”.

  • Our colleagues at Noteworthy want to find out what the long-term impact of cocooning will be on the high risk groups. Find out more here.

The document also noted that older people’s independence and decision-making agency was reduced disproportionately, as life became a series of instructions from others.

Most older people felt that underlying ageism was heightened and many felt that they were being “cancelled”.

Older people living in their own homes felt frightened into isolation, which weighed particularly hard on those who live alone.

Those who were told that they were no longer able to participate in voluntary work felt like their contribution was unrecognised and undervalued.

Many of the contributors to the research also expressed a deep frustration of precious time being lost which cannot be regained.

“Can’t wait to get back but how am I going to be? I don’t know how to be the way I was, feeling useful in life,” one person said.

“I never felt old until this year… Now I am made to feel my age as vulnerable and dependent,” another added.

The report was released today by the Alliance of Age Sector NGOs, which is made up of Active Retirement Ireland, Age & Opportunity, ALONE, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Irish Hospice Foundation, The Irish Senior Citizens Parliament and Third Age.

“This account shows that for most older people the negative effects of the pandemic restrictions were very significant, wide-reaching and diminished their role in society. It took away older people’s right to make their own decisions,” Irish Senior Citizens Parliament CEO Sue Shaw said.

Shaw added that side-effects, including loss of confidence and capacity, loneliness, isolation, anxiety, depression, were very harmful for older people.

Pat McLoughlin, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, said older people’s health deteriorated during the pandemic and the incidence of depression rose.

He said the crisis could have been less extreme if there had been more consideration of how pandemic measures would impact older people.

“It shows that ageism was lurking behind many of the decisions that were made. Older people loathed the word ‘cocooning’ – as fundamentally ageist,” McLoughlin said.

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