Social isolation for elderly may last until the end of the year: EU chief

Without a vaccine, we have to limit as much as possible contact with the elderly, said Ursula
Elderly people may have to be kept isolated until the end of the year to protect them from the coronavirus, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said in comments published Sunday.

"Without a vaccine, we have to limit as much as possible contact with the elderly," she told the Germany daily Bild.

"I know it's difficult and that isolation is a burden, but it is a question of life or death, we have to remain disciplined and patient," she added.

"Children and young people will enjoy more freedom of movement earlier than elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions," she said.

She said she hoped that a European laboratory will develop a vaccine towards the end of the year.

To ensure that people can be quickly vaccinated, authorities are already in talks with producers on gearing up for world production, she added.

Social isolation for elderly can pose health risks

Social isolation or self isolation among older adults can pose as a serious health concern because of their heightened risk of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, weak immune system, depression and even death. 

Apart from affecting health and well-being, social isolation can also lead to osteoarthritis (arthritis) in older adults, suggests a recent study. 

Some 30 per cent of adults aged 65 and older have arthritis to some degree, especially in their leg joints. Despite that, until now there has been little research on the relationship between arthritis and social isolation.

Those who weren't socially isolated tended to be younger had higher incomes and more education. They were also more likely to be physically active, had less physical pain, had faster walking times and were in better all-around health.

Because social isolation can worsen your health, the researchers suggested that older adults with arthritis perhaps could benefit from physical activity and participating in social activities.

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