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Doctors call on vulnerable elderly people with vaccine: ‘Do go outside’


Elderly doctors are sounding the alarm. They see that there are still many vulnerable elderly people who do not dare to pick up their normal daily activities for fear of corona.

Elderly living at home

But being isolated inside actually causes their health to deteriorate quickly. There are half a million frail elderly in the Netherlands who live at home. A significant proportion of them no longer dare to do things outside the home.

Arend Arends, chairman of the Association for Clinical Geriatrics makes an appeal to all vulnerable elderly people: “Please pick up the reading club, concert visit or visit others!”

Unsafe feeling

In his practice, Arends sees elderly people who still live at home, but are treated in hospital and can no longer go home afterwards. “They become worse in their legs and, for example, break a hip. Or there are elderly people who have early dementia but deteriorate faster and then end up in a care institution,” he says.

In his own practice, Arends noticed that people do not yet fully believe the message that they can safely go outside again. They feel vulnerable, there is news about new variants, and they do not yet dare to step outside. That causes problems, Arends notes.

Depressed feelings and bad food

Elderly people who stay at home too much exercise less and so there are more falls. They are all insidious processes, says Arends. You see that feelings of loneliness and depressive feelings have increased in a group of people. The diet deteriorates and that makes people more susceptible to disease.

Many people with an early stage of dementia live at home, but do have the problems caused by the dementia. That group has a tendency to isolate itself anyway, where you now see many more behavioral problems (anxiety, unrest, agitation, quarrels) that can be prevented with regular visitors, says Arends.

Risk of corona smaller than damage from staying at home

A survey among clinical geriatricians shows that the picture is the same in many practices: frail elderly people are still too afraid to resume their daily activities. The geriatricians call on the elderly to do so anyway, because the risk of becoming seriously ill from corona is now smaller than the risk of damage to your health by staying indoors.

“I really think it is now possible to do more responsibly. Participate more in small-scale group activities, interact more with others. For example, having a nice cup of coffee with someone on a terrace, that’s fine.”

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