• To understand older people’s perspectives of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic
• To recognise the effects of social isolation and restrictions due to the pandemic on older people’s physical health and mental well-being
• To consider what physical and psychological post-pandemic support you could provide to older people
Background Older people’s health is vulnerable to the effects of long-term changes to everyday life and their recovery from ill health can be delayed by the deconditioning effects of isolation. Social isolation can increase the likelihood of loneliness in older people, which has negative implications for their mental and physical health.
Aim To explore the effects of social isolation and social distancing on older people in the Republic of Ireland during and following the government-enforced lockdown in the first wave of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Method This study involved a convenience sample of four participants from the Republic of Ireland. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and audio-recorded with each participant over six sessions, two weeks apart, between 6 April 2020 and 7 July 2020. Transcripts were analysed using content analysis of longitudinal data to identify themes.
Findings Three themes were identified: the effect on health and mental well-being; commitment to restrictions; and concern about the non-adherence of others.
Conclusion Participants committed fully to ‘cocooning’ and other government restrictions, sometimes to the detriment of their health. Healthcare professionals need to be mindful of potential post-pandemic deconditioning in older people resulting from adherence to government restrictions and lingering anxieties about returning to normality after prolonged isolation.
Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2022.e1400Peer review
This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software
Dunford S, Brooke J (2022) Effects of social isolation and restrictions on older people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2022.e1400
Published online: 18 May 2022
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