About 70 percent of people age 65 or older feel they have fewer opportunities to socialize with others or take part in community activities as they spend more time at home amid the coronavirus epidemic, a recent survey has shown.
Many older people have not increased how much they go out since the government fully lifted its state of emergency over the coronavirus in late May, causing adverse effects on their willingness to carry on with their daily lives, according to the survey.
“We need to watch out for a vicious cycle in which falls in mental and physical strength make it harder (for older people) to go out,” said Hiromi Imuta, associate professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, who analyzed the survey results.
The online survey was conducted by Tokyo-based Whill Inc., which mainly sells mobility scooters, in early August, covering 600 people age 65 or older.
According to the survey, the proportion of older people who went out almost everyday in April and May this year, when the coronavirus emergency was in place, stood at 36.6 percent, down from 60.4 percent in August 2019. The percentage stood at 39.3 percent for August this year.
The number of respondents who said they rarely go out increased fivefold. Those who said they have fewer chances to go out and take part in social activities compared with the time before the virus crisis came to 66.2 percent.
The largest number of respondents said they have stopped going out to watch plays or movies, with the number of people going out for such purposes falling by 86.7 percent from a year before.
Also, the number of elderly people who go out for socializing with friends and for neighborhood association activities dropped sharply.
The number of people using public transportation dropped by about 40 percent.
The number of elderly people going out for shopping or hospital vists, as well as those who walk or use private vehicles when going out, posted small falls.
The results indicate elderly people’s current lifestyle of avoiding unnecessary outings.
The survey also showed that many elderly people are refraining from seeing friends or relatives, other than their spouses, in their daily lives.
As a result, 35.1 percent of those who have reduced outings said they feel a deterioration in their physical strength and 34.9 percent said they feel happy less often.
The number of people who have lost confidence in going out or socializing with others also increased.
Older people “should be vigilant against the coronavirus in a proper way by considering the risk of deterioration in mental and physical strength,” said Imuta.
“They need to make efforts to maintain physical strength and connections with others,” Imuta added.
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