While older Victorians are relieved to be emerging from lockdown, many remain concerned about getting out in the community.
These are some of the issues older people have raised with COTA Victoria:
Fear of catching COVID-19 – As they venture out into the community, older people say they are apprehensive and somewhat anxious. Even if they themselves are double vaccinated, they need to assess the risk of mingling with groups of people, including on public transport.
‘Last year when we emerged from lockdown, there were less cases in the community. Now we’re emerging with 1000 plus cases – I do not feel safe. Now when I see people, I see COVID,’ one woman said.
Proving vaccination status – For some older people, the process to enter a café, restaurant or hairdressing salon has been not just daunting, but unwelcoming and sometimes even rude. People have reported being turned away because they didn’t have a smart phone, even though businesses are required to accept other proof of vaccination and provide an alternative check-in method. The Victorian Government has outlined the responsibilities for both businesses and individuals when it comes to providing proof of vaccine without a smart phone.
Getting back to good health – Some older people are concerned about how their health has declined in lockdown, in particular the loss of balance and strength. They are eager to return to an active life, but often lack confidence and are nervous of being injured. Some people also report being unable to get a medical check due to the practitioner’s preference for telehealth. We have been unable to find information about a patient’s rights to seek a face-to-face medical appointment. However, we encourage you to ask your doctor for a face-to-face appointment or suggest an alternative provider that can see you in person.
Risk of elder abuse and lack of support – In many homes, the pandemic and lockdowns have increased family tensions. In some cases, callers have told Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) that family members are imposing anti-vaccination opinions, which is leading to emotional abuse and control issues. Older people have also shared their feelings about isolation and loneliness while waiting for activities outside the home to resume.
SRV is encouraging older people to find other ways to safely reach out for support, such as calling while out on a walk or from your car. For more information, visit the SRV website.
Also check out these top 10 tips for older people re-engaging with the community.