The end-of-life wishes of many older people were not sought or honoured during the pandemic, according to a new report from Irish NGOs.
The 'Telling It Like It Is' report, which was released today, states that older people expressed the heightened challenges they faced during the pandemic and called for a post-pandemic focus on regaining their positive role in society.
The report also found that there was a deep frustration of precious time lost which cannot be regained.
Chief Executive of the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament Sue Shaw said the report shows the elderly did not feel listened to by decision-makers during lockdown.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Shaw said the negative effects of cocooning vastly outweighed the positive, with many older people feeling lonely, frightened and isolated.
"In the anxiety and very difficult circumstances, all the other determinants of what matter to older people's quality of life and health were very much pushed to the side," she said.
Ms Shaw said that six out of 10 older people enjoy regular social activities, which disappeared overnight.
She added that there needs to be a recognition of older people as contributors to society rather than people who have limited skills or things to offer.
"We need to ensure that older people's skills, experience and knowledge informs the policy [that impacts them]," she said.
Older people's experience of the crisis could have been less extreme if there had been more consideration of how pandemic measures would impact them, according to the Alzheimer Society of Ireland CEO Pat McLoughlin.
"It shows that ageism was lurking behind many of the decisions that were made. Older people loathed the word 'cocooning' as fundamentally ageist," Mr McLoughlin said.
"People's health deteriorated as non-Covid health services were cut back and there were less opportunities for exercise. Not surprisingly, the incidence of depression rose."
The report was issued by The Alliance of Age Sector NGOs, which is made up of Active Retirement Ireland, Age & Opportunity, ALONE, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Irish Hospice Foundation, The Irish Senior Citizens Parliament and Third Age.