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Older people have spent a lot of time thinking about how best to keep safe and reduce their risk of becoming ill with COVID-19. However, many older people—particularly those who may feel they may not have long to live—faced a difficult dilemma between wanting to keep safe and wanting to make the most of their life. 

The desire to connect and spend time with family and friends face-to-face often weighed heavily into this trade-off. For example, grandparents often felt sad about not being there to witness important developmental milestones of their grandchildren. Others felt disappointed about missing out on long-planned holidays, reunions or family celebrations. For many, this has led to feelings of loneliness or of ‘missing out’ and a sense of needing to find new ways of ‘filling the time’.  

Adult children have also often found it difficult to decide if and when to visit older parents. On one hand, they want to keep their parents safe, but on the other hand they long to connect and see each other in the flesh. 

Throughout the pandemic, older people’s own perceptions about their COVID-19-related risks, and the messages about their risks communicated by the government and communities have sometimes been in stark contrast. For example, older people who feel healthy and well may oppose being stereotyped into the high-risk group, simply on the basis of their age. Instead, they may wish to be allowed to do more to help support their communities and those most vulnerable.

Click on any photo to see larger images as a slideshow.

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