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Amid Covid-19, social distancing increasing loneliness in old people

London – A new research study, author Anna Whittaker, University of Stirling, UK has said there is enough evidence that social distancing introduced in response to Covid-19 is increasing feelings of loneliness in old people and impacting their well-being. The study found that increasing loneliness due to social distancing was associated with a smaller social network, lower perceived social support and a decrease in well-being. Previous studies have demonstrated the negative impacts of social isolation and loneliness.
She said; “Our study which involved a survey of more than 1,400 older people examined the impact of social distancing during the pandemic on social activity, loneliness and wellbeing. The majority of survey participants reported that social distancing has made them experience more loneliness, social contact with fewer people and less social contact overall,” Whittaker added. The study found that a larger social network and better perceived social support seem to be protective against loneliness and poor health and well-being due to social distancing.
Of the 1,429 survey participants, 84 percent were 60 years or above and had an average social network of five people. On average, the participants socialised five days per week for more than 6.6 hours per week. Fifty-six percent reported that social distancing regulations made them experience more loneliness. Greater loneliness was significantly associated with a smaller social network, lower perceived social support, and a decrease in social support frequency, quality, and amount – and a worsening of wellbeing and health.
Using the same survey data, the research also considered the impact of social distancing on physical activity. According to the study, 40 percent of people said they were walking less, compared to before lockdown, and a similar proportion was engaging in less moderate physical activity. Those who reported engaging in lower physical activity had poorer well-being.

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