Leading physician calls for discussion on impact of Covid-19 and “how we get on with our life”
“I think a lot of older people are now expressing the feeling that maybe life isn’t worth living any longer.”
A leading Irish physican and geriatrician has said that a lot of older people in Ireland are “expressing the feeling that maybe life isn’t worth living any longer” due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their day-to-day lives.
Speaking on Prime Time on RTE on Thursday night, Professor Ronan Collins, Consultant Physician in Geriatric and Stroke Medicine at Tallaght University Hospital, called for a broader discussion about how to live with the virus and “how we get on with our life” in Ireland.
“I think we need to get on living in as far as is possible,” Collins said.
“Obviously it’s up to society to determine what’s an acceptable level of attrition with this illness.
“We have to accept the fact that me must live with this virus, it’s here for the foreseeable future, there isn’t a vaccine immediately on the horizon and so we must have this discussion as a society, and that includes all sectors of society, of how we get on with our life.”
Collins elaborated on his experience in dealing with older people in particular during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that the lack of consultation with older people when asking them to cocoon was a “mistake”.
"I think a lot of older people are now expressing the feeeling that maybe life isn't worth living any longer".
Professor Rónán Collins on @RTE_PrimeTime on the impact Covid 19 & the measures being taken to halt the virus are having on our societypic.twitter.com/Hjz6DFgBUR
— RTÉ (@rte) September 4, 2020
Collins said that “a lot of morbidity” amongst older people arose as a result and that an absence of the likes of family celebrations and sporting and cultural events led to “a lot of older people are now expressing the feeling that maybe life isn’t worth living any longer”.
“I had to look after older people during the height of the last wave of the crisis and a couple of things people have been saying to me, particularly a lot of older people, felt very distressed by the cocooning,” Collins added.
“And I think that, in hindsight, that it will be proven at least a mistake that we didn’t consult with older people a bit more. A lot of morbidity has arisen from that that we’re now dealing with.
“I think a lot of older people are now expressing the feeling that maybe life isn’t worth living any longer because there’s an equipoise now between their enjoyment of life, lack of family celebrations, community occasions, sporting and cultural events etc. etc.
“And so you can’t just assume that the only outcome from this pandemic here can be judged by what is the death rate, because society has other factors that it values.
“It values enjoyment of life, it values employment, it values our businesses and so we do need to have a broader discussion in society.”
Asked by Miriam O’Callaghan if he would open the pubs, Collins replied: “Absolutely.”
“It’s not about… going down lashing into drink. It’s where people meet, it’s where they share a greeting, where they share the news, they commiserate, they support one another and we’re facing into a winter where people need that kind of support and structure.”