Associations urge the public to care about solitary senior citizens

The ongoing pandemic has been taxing on the mental health of local residents, especially senior citizens who live alone and have no one to talk to, according to the city’s local associations.
In the midst of Covid-19 and ensuing economic downturn, older adults have faced a string of new challenges and problems, including the need to adapt to the new normal era and associated financial hardships.
“The dramatically-changed environment caused by Covid-19 has put many locals under pressure, especially for the elderly who are living on their own. This may result in them developing some emotional issues,” said Ng Siu Lai, the Chairman of the General Union of Neighborhood Associations of Macao (UGAMM), at a charity event on January 17.
The pandemic has heightened the sense of loneliness and depression among solitary seniors, many of whom have been forced to stay at home alone for long periods of time due to social distancing measures.
Paul Pun Chi Meng, secretary-general of Caritas Macau, told the Times yesterday that some elderly residents with depression were not even aware of their own mental health and hesitated to seek help.
“A mental [health] problem, left untreated, will result in lost appetite and worsening of some physical conditions,” Pun added.
Caritas Macau has held outreach activities to visit and tend to the feeble seniors who are living alone on a regular basis. Pun also said that the number of elderly residents with low mobility seeking Caritas Macau’s services to get around the city has been on the rise during the pandemic.
“Getting out of the house for a change of scenery and fresh air is always beneficial for mental health,” the official stressed.
An earlier report published by TDM points out that some older people in Macau are also concerned about financial uncertainties during the pandemic. This has prompted them to cut down their living expenses to retain more money for a rainy day.
Back in July 2020, Macau saw an alarming increase in the number of suicide cases in the elderly, which has been a wake-up call for the community to pay closer attention to the impact of Covid-19 on the mental state of older adults.
On January 17, the UGAMM teamed up with the charity association of the Lin Fung Temple to distribute approximately 4,000 food packages to older adults living alone and raise public awareness about the need to attend to that demographic.
Pun urged the general public and especially family members to visit solitary older adults more frequently and check on their emotional welfare.
The Social Welfare Bureau (IAS) encourages residents to be aware of their psychological and emotional state as well as that of their relatives and friends. In case of need, residents can call Caritas’ Life Hope hotline (28525222) or IAS’ counseling hotline (28261126).

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