MANILA - Loneliness among Filipino elderly worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, an expert said Wednesday.
A third of 833 senior citizens surveyed said they felt "more lonely" after the policy on physical distancing had to be enforced to curb the spread of the pandemic, said Dr. Marc Abat, who specializes in internal medicine and geriatrics.
"Mas malala ang loneliness nila ngayong pandemiya... at mas stressed sila over all," he said, noting that senior citizens have been mandated to stay at home since last year due to their vulnerability to the virus.
(Their loneliness worsened during the pandemic... and they are more stressed over all.)
While 65 percent of respondents said they experienced "about the same" loneliness before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are several senior citizens who may have become more frail due to limited activities at home, he said.
"'Yung mga dating ginagawa ng mga may edad hindi na nila nagagawa... nagkakaroon sila ng sedentary behavior," Abat said.
(The elderly could no longer do the things they did before... they now have this sedentary behavior.)
"Nagkakaroon ng pagbigat ng timbang, tumataba, humihina ang capacity ng baga at puso," he said.
(There is weight gain, increase in fat, and a lower capacity of the lungs and the heart.)
"Dahil hindi po nakakapag-exercise, bumababa po ang muscle mass, 'yung muscle strength din po nababawasan. Marami pong nagrereklamo na kapag naglalakad sila ngayon, sumasakit na ang tuhod nila," he said.
(Because they could not exercise, their muscle mass decreases, their muscle strength is also reduced. There are a lot of people who now complain of painful knees when walking.)
Restrictions on transportation have also affected the health of some elderly people, the doctor said.
"Lumalala din dahil nahihirapan sila mag-follow up sa doctor dahil sa transportation, scheduling dahil sa lockdown," he said.
(It worsens because they have a hard time going to follow up check-ups because of transportation and scheduling issues during the lockdown.)
"May ibang nahihirapan bumili ng maintenance medication nila, 'yung iba naman takot pumunta sa ospital para mag-followup," he said.
(Some find it hard to buy their maintenance medicine while others are afraid to go to hospitals for followup checkups.)
"'Yung availability ng tamang pagkain hindi nila makuha dahil hindi sila makapunta sa palengke lalo kung mag-isa lang sila sa bahay," he said.
(The availability of right food is scarce if they could not go to the market, especially if they are alone at home.)
Last month, the national government allowed fully-vaccinated senior citizens in areas under general community quarantine to go to open-air spaces so that they could exercise and socialize for a limited period.
The national government hopes to vaccinate all senior citizens and persons with comorbidities in the Philippines within the year to attain population protection against the virus.
As of July 1, only 9 percent of senior citizens in the Philippines have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while another 30 percent have received their first dose.