/Elderly people are dying alone at home due to coronavirus

Elderly people are dying alone at home due to coronavirus

People who died of coronavirus alone at home were not found for up to two weeks, doctors reveal

  • They have only been discovered after a relative, friend or neighbour raised alarm
  • Some have gone undetected for so long that bodies have begun to decompose
  • Campaigners say it highlights vulnerability of isolated older people living alone
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Elderly people have died at home alone due to coronavirus and not been found for up to two weeks, doctors have revealed.

Some have only been discovered after relatives or neighbours raised the alarm and many have gone undetected for such a long time that their bodies have begun to decompose.    

Doctors believe that several dozen such cases occurred in London during March, April and May. 

Charities for the elderly say that the revelation highlights how vulnerable some older people can be who are isolated or live on their own.   

Elderly people have died at home alone due to coronavirus and not been found for up to two weeks, doctors have revealed (file image)

Elderly people have died at home alone due to coronavirus and not been found for up to two weeks, doctors have revealed (file image)

Elderly people have died at home alone due to coronavirus and not been found for up to two weeks, doctors have revealed (file image)

‘People have lain undiscovered during the pandemic for seven to 14 days,’ said Dr Mike Osborn, a senior pathologist in London and the chair of the death investigation committee at the Royal College of Pathologists told The Guardian

‘I’ve seen plenty of such cases like this, where bodies are decomposed, in the Covid outbreak and also done postmortems in ‘query Covid’ cases (where the disease was suspected).’ 

He added that if decomposition has started it is hard to determine the exact cause of death, but that he was able to establish that some such deaths were as a result of Covid-19.  

Some of these deaths were discovered after the person's family doctor, after being unable to contact them, asked the police to make a welfare check on them by calling round

Some of these deaths were discovered after the person's family doctor, after being unable to contact them, asked the police to make a welfare check on them by calling round

Some of these deaths were discovered after the person’s family doctor, after being unable to contact them, asked the police to make a welfare check on them by calling round

During the pandemic doctors have certified the deaths of 700 people who lived at home in London – with medics confirming coronavirus as the cause of death or saying it was a contributing factor due to underlying health conditions.  

The charity director of Age UK has said that she always feared many would be found dead alone at home during the pandemic, adding that it is ‘extremely sad’ that this is indeed the case.   

As well as elderly people dying at home alone, others who have passed away had mental health problems or learning disabilities.      

Another London pathologist says many have been found after not being heard from for a couple of weeks. Those have often been described by neighbours as ‘reclusive’ or ‘private’ and were found after people living nearby saw no signs of life.     

Some of these deaths were discovered after the person’s family doctor, after being unable to contact them, asked the police to make a welfare check on them by calling round.  

The head of the Royal College of GPs linked such deaths to the lockdown and people not seeking NHS care when they needed it.    

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