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Impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns on frailty and wellbeing in older people and those living with long-term conditions

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>25/11/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine
Issue number11
Number of pages4
Pages (from-to)1111-1114
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Lockdowns and social distancing have been important and successful strategies to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus. However, excess deaths related to non-COVID-19 causes have been reported, suggesting issues around availability and use of health services, particularly for people with conditions needing ongoing medical support. In addition, evidence indicates that a range of age-related diseases and frailty are impacted by physical activity and social engagement, both limited in lockdown situations. It is therefore important to learn from the effects of lockdowns in order to limit any impacts, while still protecting people from the infection. This editorial summarizes two research themes at the Centre for Ageing Research at Lancaster University in the UK, one assessing impacts of lockdown for people living with a long-term neurodegenerative condition, Parkinson's disease, and one assessing longitudinal impacts on frailty and wellbeing, with older adults aged over 70, including those living with at least one long-term condition. Uncertainty related to Parkinson's disease and to COVID-19 amplified each other, and cancelled clinical appointments and limitations on physical activity had very significant impacts on wellbeing for this group. In the longitudinal study, frailty was more severe during lockdown periods. While lockdowns reduce spread of the virus, becoming frailer could make older adults more vulnerable to the effects of the virus during these periods. Regular exercise during lockdown had beneficial effects aiding recovery once restrictions relaxed. These studies suggest factors that could lessen negative impacts of future lockdowns. Maintaining physical activity and providing access to health services during periods of lockdown are suggested as priorities.