The elderly are lonelier and move less during the corona pandemic

Loneliness among elderly people living at home has increased in recent years and in 2020 we even saw a sharp increase. Due to the corona pandemic, the social participation of the elderly, including sports and exercise, has decreased. Especially the elderly who are lonely move less. The experience of social cohesion in the neighborhood of the elderly has remained stable during the corona pandemic. This is reported by Level.

Loneliness is a persistent phenomenon among older people living independently (75 years and older). Since 2019, Nivel has been investigating developments in loneliness, social participation and social cohesion as part of the monitoring of the One against loneliness programme. The study compares elderly people with a physical disability with elderly people in the general population.

Corona measures affect all the elderly

The corona measures have a lot of influence on daily life. The percentage of elderly people who feel lonely has increased sharply, to 69 percent among the elderly with a physical disability and 62 percent among the elderly in the general population. Older people with a physical disability generally report more loneliness than older people in the general population. It is therefore expected that they will need more time to recover from the consequences of the corona pandemic than older people in the general population.

Negative influence of corona on movement of the elderly

About a third of the elderly with a physical disability will have started to exercise and exercise less in 2020. This is true for almost a quarter of the elderly in the general population. When the elderly indicate that they are lonely, they often also exercise less. This can have several causes. Due to the corona measures, sports activities were cancelled, so that the elderly came into contact with other people less. In addition, lonely people also undertake fewer activities than people who are not lonely. For both their physical well-being and to combat loneliness, it is important to continue to monitor the participation of older people. The One against loneliness program facilitates local initiatives for the elderly to exercise together. These can help older people to exercise more and broaden their social contacts.

By: National Care Guide
Source: Nivel,, consulted on 25-03-2022

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