As I was flicking through the stations, I came upon Joe Duffy just as he was saying, “everything is blamed on Covid”.

He was talking about the changes the Citizens Information Service were making to staffing involving volunteers and callers were telling him how it has all happened post lockdown.

I had been at an event the day before and somebody was asking me if I was doing much running. And I told them that I had barely run since January when I got Covid. I have been blaming unwanted weight gain this summer on the fact that I have not laced up my runners all that much this year because of the effects Covid had on me. It is a nice way of covering for the fact that I have been too lazy. Yes, I was knocked somewhat earlier in the year by Covid. My symptoms were tiredness and fatigue. It was a good excuse in the springtime but it went past its sell by date as an excuse somewhere around May.

But there is no doubt that we are blaming everything on Covid, in some cases legitimately and some cases not. Customer service has been hit in pubs and restaurants as owners can’t get staff and we all know how the post lockdown opening up caused chaos in the airports. I was actually driving home from north Leitrim last Thursday listening to Joe on Liveline. I was in Drumkeeran to record a piece about rural isolation and mental health and its efforts with local man Hubert McHugh and Valerie Cogan. In 2017, they cofounded “Leitrim’s Health and Wealth” initiative. And they are organising a night of health and wellbeing in Killenummery Parish Hall in Dromahair later in the month.

Long-term effects

What struck me when chatting to Valerie, was her observation in relation to the long term effects of lockdown on the over 65s. Cast our minds back to March 2020 and how older people were told to cocoon. On top of that they were frightened into believing that if they got Covid there was a fair chance they would die. They must have been scared out of their wits. Then take that to rural Ireland and people living alone or away from towns and villages and family and friends. With all amenities shut, they had nowhere to go.

All of us suffered in different ways through the lockdown and many of us adopted coping mechanisms. It would be wrong to compare cohorts of people but it would be a fair argument to suggest that older people living in rural areas had it tough. One man I spoke to in Leitrim talked about the simple rituals of going to mass or going to a funeral had caused him a lot of angst. And Valerie said that older people remain anxious as a legacy of Covid. Anxiety among over 65s is something she is dealing with in her interactions with older people. You can see it in shops and out on the street where older people are sticking with the mask wearing and trying to avoid large crowds.

They were made feel very anxious and afraid, right from the get go two and a half years ago. Going about our daily business now, we might see the various after effects of Covid in terms of customer service and human behaviour but for older people recovering from the shock of being made felt closer to death’s door than the rest of us is very real. Let’s be cognisant of that.

One to watch

It takes a special skill to make a movie so bad that it is billed as a must watch. I have not seen it but the reviews suggest Michael Flatley’s Blackbird has brought a whole new meaning to the phrase, “box office”.

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