Elders feel out of cage after lockdown curbs ease

Muscat: The Covid-19 pandemic has divided societies demographically and the two groups that saw changes in lifestyle were individuals above 60 and children below 12.

These have been the two groups who have had to face challenges with the restriction of movement varying to isolation and the latter settling for online schooling.  Now things are beginning to change.  While both groups were not allowed to visit public places the easing of entry to beaches saw families take their little ones and senior members to the seaside for fresh air.

Enclosed areas, however, have been a different ball game.  On Thursday the announcement from the Minister of Health at the press conference stated, “All institutions should end the ban on those over the age of 60.

They should not be denied entry.”

There was excitement but it also meant that it is now a personal responsibility.

For Cris Talib, a businesswoman from the Philippines, the statement was a great relief.

“The minute I saw the article I forwarded it to all my friends. We know COVID-19 is still around the corner and businesses are gradually reopening in Oman.  The easing of restrictions is paving the way back to normal life.  For many of us who are in the age group of 60 and above have been difficult as we could not go into malls or dine at restaurants once they were opened.  We have been ready to follow the protocol of two meters distance.  But this solitary had felt like a punishment and the house had become a cage – all because of COVID-19.  So, on the very first day, I stepped out to the mall and then went out for dinner.”

Ahmed al Balushi said his mother only visits her family and relatives. “But I do get worried when she goes out.”

Thermal screening facilities are in place in most of these institutions where there is a large movement of people in and out, pointed out N R Narayan, educator.

“Generally speaking, adults over 60 are senior citizens and residents who are responsible and aware of the state of their health and hygiene.  Also, wearing masks, social distancing, and hand sanitisers are mandatory.

If the senior citizens are fit and healthy, there is no need for restrictions since they have to comply with the Covid-19 guidelines.  However, senior citizens with lower immunity levels and co-morbidities should be on self –isolation and not allowed to move out of the house,” he reflected.

He looked at the international figures and added, “If you take the global census, 70 percent of the persons affected are above 60 years and 83 percent of persons who died had more than one ailment.  A co-morbid condition is the most important factor in the elderly and is responsible for mortality.

The common ailments are diabetes, asthma, renal disease, and cancer.  There were fear and loneliness due to restriction in movement.  They could also slip into depression and I think this is where the family members ought to come in – to counsel them and keep them engaged,” Narayan explained.

Muttrah Souq, meanwhile, has begun to see its all-time favorite visitors – the senior citizens for whom the souq is part of their life.  The souq itself is designed as such that it has a seating area in the open air and now they are filled.  The only difference from the past is everyone sports a mask.