An MP has joined the call for clearer guidance to be issued for the over-70s when it comes to COVID-19. Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North, has added his voice to that of Independent Age, the older people’s charity, which is asking the government to make its advice for the elderly easier to follow.
It comes in the wake of a new poll carried out by Opinium, which showed just 30 per cent of older adults to be interpreting advice for the over-70s correctly. This has led to many self-isolating unnecessarily, which could in turn provoke other issues, such as loneliness and inactivity.
According to the poll, 43 per cent of over-65s incorrectly believe that anyone over the age of 70 should be shielding themselves, even if they have no underlying health conditions. This is not in line with current guidance for the demographic, which states that social distancing should be observed as opposed to full isolation.
As the UK starts to ease lockdown, Mr Cunningham is backing Independent Age’s request for targeted messaging for healthy over-70s. This should include clear, easy-to-follow guidance and real-life examples to prevent unnecessary, widespread fear.
Mr Cunningham told the Northern Echo: "Older people in my constituency of Stockton North have put in remarkable effort to keep themselves and their communities safe. This polling from Independent Age suggests that some people may have been more strict than was necessary.
“The government's guidance has, quite simply, not been clear enough. Those over-70s with no underlying health conditions who thought they were required to shield have had their independence removed – not realising they could have continued to take outdoor exercise or shop for themselves."
Of course, not all over-70s are considered healthy and many will have been shielding legitimately. This will continue to be the reality for them as things move forward, making it vitally important that friends and relatives respect their shielding status.
This means they shouldn’t leave the house, have contact with others, including family members and must disinfect any groceries coming into their home. For people with health conditions like cancer and respiratory illnesses it is vitally important they follow these steps.
For over-70s in care homes, the management will be responsible for their welfare and will be following government advice on best practice, as well as common sense measures. It’s likely to be a while yet before relatives can visit care homes as every precaution is being taken to keep coronavirus out.