Media Release | 25 March 2020
Breaking Down the Fear and Anxiety of Isolation for Older Australians
….. the sound of a friendly understanding voice on the end of the phone should never be underrated
The Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria said the telephone will play a major role in supporting older people who find themselves isolated and dealing with the fear of contracting the Coronavirus, which is causing increased anxiety in the community.
COTA Victoria CEO, Tina Hogarth-Clarke said COTA Victoria is receiving daily phone calls through their Helpline and Information lines from older people and their family members who are distressed, experiencing anxiety and are fearful for the future, as people become increasingly more isolated from each other.
Ms Hogarth-Clarke said the important isolation strategy to protect older members of the community, many who live on their own, from COVID-19 also removes the things they look forward to such as community events, sport, travel, cultural activities or regular meetings with friends.
“However, it is vital to follow the Government advice of isolation, social distancing and physical separation to protect ourselves, families, friends and the wider community.
“We’ve all become aware of what we need to do to reduce the incidence of COVID-19, but it’s important to support people experiencing anxiety and to think creatively about how we can stay connected and how we can practice self-care,” Ms Hogarth-Clarke said.
Whilst improvement in technology provides online contact and access to face to face opportunities via mobile phones, tablets and computers, research by the eSafety Commission revealed that 57% per cent of Australians aged 70 or older have no digital literacy.
Ms Hogarth-Clarke said the telephone, either fixed or mobile, is the easiest and most accessible means for regular contact with older Australians who are familiar with the phone and its ease of use.
“The sound of a friendly understanding voice on the end of the phone should never be underrated in such times of stress which many isolated older Australians are experiencing.
“Given the expected ongoing COVID-19 health emergency, COTA Victoria is urging family, friends and neighbours to make regular reassuring phone calls to check on and boost the spirits of family, friends and neighbours whilst also checking on their health, Ms Hogarth-Clarke said.
The COTA Information helpline — 1300 13 50 90
(Monday to Friday 9.30 am–4 pm) — will continue to operate. It will provide information for people who cannot access information online.
Seniors Rights Victoria
Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV), a program of COTA Victoria that provides information, support, advice and education to help prevent elder abuse, will continue to operate, although without face-to-face consultations. SRV can be contacted on 1300 368 821.
Media Enquiries: Ron Smith, Special Projects, COTA Victoria – mobile: 0417 329 201