Level Red restrictions worsen senior isolation in Manitoba: retired teacher

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Senior Isolation
WATCH: As the pandemic wears on, social isolation and loneliness are being felt widely. Many seniors are feeling especially isolated, but there are supports. Malika Karim reports – Nov 17, 2020

Seniors living in isolation are becoming increasingly lonely as the current level red COVID-19 restrictions mandate people to stay at home in Manitoba, says a local senior.

“I guess it’s also not feeling useful,” said Peggy Prendergast, a reitred teacher in her 80s.

“I’ve always felt through my teaching career and through my earlier retirement years that I was doing something that was valued by society. Now I am a housewife without a husband and without a family here, and it doesn’t seem to have to same joy that it used to.”

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Prendergast, who lives alone in her home, said she teaches other seniors in assisted living homes how to paint in order to supplement her pension and keep busy.

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With further restrictions now in place, though, that has all come to a halt.

Prendergast hasn’t been able to see anyone in person since Level Red restrictions took effect in Winnipeg on Nov. 2.

“I guess the hardest thing to get use to is to always being alone,” Prendergast said. “I think I said to somebody the other day, ‘I’m tired of looking at the walls inside my house.’”

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She has family living in the city, but hasn’t been able to see them either.

“There’s stress with all of us,” Prendergast said. “They worry about me, which I don’t want them to, and I’m concerned about them as well.”

Senior support agencies in Manitoba are working to bring company to people feeling extra lonely right now.

One of the programs, ‘Senior Centre Without Walls‘, provides educational and recreational programming over the phone.

“It’s strictly a telephone program; you don’t have to go anywhere,” said Lydia Robertson, program assistant at A&O: Support Services For Older Adults.

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“Everything is done via a teleconference format. So no one needs to have a computer, all they need to have is a telephone to participate in our variety of programs.”

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Protecting older adults during a pandemic

Programming includes book clubs, brain teasers and fitness classes, all over the phone.

The programs are helping people connect and make new friendships, said Robertson.

“They’re very happy to participate and to hear another persons voice other than the television,” she said. “People identifying with similar issues in growing older.”

Senior support staff can also help residents coordinate grocery and prescription pick-ups if they can’t leave their house.

People can access these Manitoba services by calling 211 or by dialing 311 in Winnipeg.


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