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How you cope with being in a lockdown when you are single and a senior

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Carole Railton (frsa), cofounder of Behavioural Shift, explains how she deals with a lockdown.

Earlier this month I appeared in “The Telegraph”, a UK national Newspaper. The article was on health and age and looked at the likelihood of getting Covid-19, followed by the chances of recovery based on health and general fitness. Since I go to the gym twice a week, (when its open) and use a personal trainer, and while in lockdown I used my computer to follow Joe Weeks a personal trainer with a worldwide following, I was thought a great example of someone who would come off better were I to get the virus.

I was very pleased with this analysis and armed with some medical facts, I was in a very good mood for the rest of the week. I even managed a dinner date with an old friend and business contact.

In the last weekend in October, the UK Government called for a new lockdown, with pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, leisure centres, to close along with none essential shops. Her ex-husband is not legally allowed to travel except for half a mile for shopping and exercise. No travel or holidays, in this country or overseas. Now, London is in another lockdown which is set to end before Christmas.

Seniors are being told to take extra care and shield. As I watched the people exiting Paris last week, causing large traffic jams as they headed away to stay in rural locations, or by the coast, I was aghast. Now I realise the same is happening here. People have panic bought. If Twitter is a measurement of what is going on, it is clear that people are already paying for tests to see if they have the virus before heading off to rural and coastal locations. The exodus is enormous!

Several of my friends have gone with their families to the countryside from London, my hometown. The fact that so many people have left London is scary.

Scary is not a word I usually use. In fact, a lot of my work is with hypnosis and coaching, helping people not to be scared. There are already fewer people in the City of London, most noticeable in the business area, metres from where I live. In fact, it is quite eerie and there was no need to dress the area in Halloween decorations as it already has a spooky feel. The isolation is obvious.

No one should feel sad, nor generally be upset or downhearted. But I now feel both. I am a single household so I feel even more restricted than ever. As we can only form a bubble with one other household/person it means I can choose one person to “bubble with”.

But all my local friends have families, so they are bubbling with them. It is not surprising that being single at this time is very isolating. One of our prominent media writers, Janet Street Porter, has written about this, thank goodness.

People need to understand this issue. All the wording and talk is about families, even though there are not so many families in London.

Being in a partnership allows you to discuss, cuddle and to even make love. Being on your own means this is not possible. Restricted to your own company, you feel isolated, and for me, a feeling of loneliness prevails, something I have never experienced before.

I don’t think I am depressed but I do think I am sad. Yes, of course, I have friends that I can talk to on Zoom and other platforms where we can see each other. But as we are learning, this does not fulfil our needs, and extroverts like myself need people, we need the interaction, the comfort of company, the physical contact of touch.

It is well known by all behaviouralists that humans need each other. The saying that “no man is an island” is so true during these times. This really resonates with me. We were given our senses for a reason, to talk to each other, to see each other, to touch each other. We need to explore these senses on a regular basis.

Being single and senior is not acknowledged by society. In the UK we know they instructed hospitals not to resuscitate people over 65 during the early days of the virus. Others were sent to care homes to die. Now we are being isolated by the exodus of people from the cities. Moreover, the need to self-isolate means we cannot make contact with others.

I tried to call my friend Marjory. She is also single but lives with her mother and it looks like she is very sad too, too sad to talk she told me in her text.

I travelled to the coast before the second lockdown although the weather forecast was heavy rain all day. Although I need a new pair of water proof boots - I have the regulation wellies but I would love to have a pair of boots that will repel the water- it does not look like I can buy any since shoe shops will not be open and my wellies are not good on pavements (I have already fallen over in them).

It’s now back to online ordering where I am already experiencing difficulties ordering my new computer from Apple. They are doing online orders only for the new ipad Air which I have chosen instead of a portable computer. I also want a desk top PC (Apple) but there is waiting list of two months. Having dropped and broken my portable, and without a desktop, I am restricted to my telephone only. Imagine how hard that is. Since I am in the unusual position of being unable to be supplied with new equipment I have an additional strain on my life.

My love is photography. I have won photographic competitions and have had a sponsored exhibition in London, but even photography is not possible. of my house. I now have all the photographic equipment but nowhere to use it. As an example of this, last year at this time, I had just returned from Alaska and was on my way to the Lake District for a photography week. Luckily, I have amazing pictures from both these trips, but just looking at the photos makes me sad that I cannot explore anywhere else at this time in such depth.

Having had an amazing life, working in 47 countries, travelling to 100 I must not complain. But having to adapt to so many restrictions at this time of my life is gloomy to say the least. I wonder if I will ever complete the contract in India that was due for execution this past April, and whether, I will travel again to Java, where I was a student and volunteering for the Indonesian Rain Forest, or to Jamaica which I consider my second home, or to South Africa where I was a student, then working for a global recruitment company. I had great experiences and great times following my marriage break up in Zambia. Travel has always kept me happy, curious and knowledgeable about different cultures.

Even with all my travels I have always returned to London. I love it, or I did love it. What happens next? Well, Women’s Weekly have just interviewed me for an article they published on 11 November about spending Christmas on your own, which I have done a few times in the last 10 years. But being forced to do this as opposed to choosing to do so when you have had a very hectic year is completely different.

There will be a webinar on “Being alone this Christmas” by Carole Railton and Lucia Dore at Behavioural Shift on 9 December at 9am (GMT). For more information and to RSVP please go to the events page on this website, where you will also receive the Zoom link.

Carole Railton in The Telegraph

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