Stay-at-home measures hurt health of senior citizens

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Stay-at-home measures hurt seniors

Researchers from the University of Tsukuba and six municipalities in Japan conducted a survey on the effects of coronavirus stay-at-home measures on physical and mental health. They received responses from about 8,000 people.

About 20 percent of respondents in their 70s said they leave their homes once a week at most. This figure more than doubles for people in their 90s, with nearly 50 percent saying they go out once a week at most.

The measures are also taking a toll on mental health. Of respondents 60 and older, 27 percent said they have started asking questions repeatedly and have noticed they are getting forgetful. Fifty percent said they are losing their motivation to live.

"Difficulty moving"

Ohara Yoshihiro, 95, went to a weekly exercise class before the pandemic. Since the class was canceled he says he has found it gradually more difficult to move his legs and now cannot walk without a cane.

"You don't even notice how it gets harder and harder to move," he says. "Then suddenly you're in the situation where you don't move because it's hard, and it gets worse because you don't move."

Saito Kazuko, 87, says she's been staying mostly at home, with no one to talk to, since her choir group stopped last March. She says she's been struggling with forgetfulness.

"I'll write down a shopping list and have my wallet next to me, she says. "And then on the way to the store, I suddenly realize that I didn't bring my wallet."

Kuno Shinya, a professor at the University of Tsukuba who conducted the survey, says a lack of exercise and limited interaction can cause a decline in cognitive function. He adds that it's important for people to have a safe place to meet and talk in local communities and we have to think about how to create such places.

The information is accurate as of April 8, 2021.