A study has revealed that more than half a million French seniors live in a state of “social death” and almost never interact with other people, a trend that has increased during the coronavirus pandemic.
The report, published by the association Les Petits Frères des Pauvres (the Little Brothers of the Poor) on Thursday, states that the coronavirus health restrictions and lockdowns have “accelerated the elderly who had a fragile relational fabric into intense isolation”.
An estimated 530,000 over-60s live in a state of “social death”, according to the report, which notes the number has increased by 77 per cent since 2017.
“Dying doesn’t scare me. It’s not living what I’m going through right now. It’s not funny, I don’t see anyone,” a 76-year-old named Edith told the association.
In the last four years, Les Petits Frères des Pauvres also claims that the number of elderly people isolated from their families has increased by 122 per cent, from 900,000 in 2017 to over two million people in 2021, a report from French broadcaster CNews states.
Seniors in Care Homes Liberated, May Go for Walks Outside Without Needing to Quarantine https://t.co/TBUd792RJT
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 5, 2021
While the internet has been useful for many seniors who have been isolated due to coronavirus restrictions, the association claims that 3.6 million older French people live in a state of digital isolation, while others say virtual meetings cannot replace in-person interactions.
France is not the only country in which seniors have become more isolated due to the coronavirus pandemic. In January, seniors in Canadian long-term care homes spoke of their experiences with isolation at an independent commission, some calling the conditions “inhumane”.
“You weren’t able to talk to anybody, to see anyone… Through Christmas and New Year’s, we sat in our rooms,” a resident named Maria said and added: “It is inhumane to leave people in their rooms without any contact with anyone for that long a period of time.”
In May, senior citizens in UK care homes were allowed to go for walks outside or visit a family garden for the first time in months without having to quarantine themselves for two weeks upon returning to the home.
The ability to leave the home and not quarantine upon returning was a concession won by groups who expressed concern over seniors’ confinement during the coronavirus pandemic.