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How Covid-19 condemned the elderly to loneliness



Since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic in mid-March this year, governments and international organisations have been unequivocal in their warnings that older persons face a significant risk of developing severe illness if they contract the disease.

As a result, young people were advised to limit visits to their ageing parents and grandparents to reduce the risk of infections.

Dr Moka Lantum, managing director CheckUps Medical Centre, Nairobi, says old people are vulnerable for a variety of reasons: They have low immunity. Some have pre-existing chronic conditions such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. These either expose them to a high viral load or weaken their ability to resist the torrential immune response that weakens vital organs.

“Protecting the elderly is an essential public health measure to curb the mortality associated with the virus,” said Dr Moka.

But this growing isolation of the elderly has spawned its own crisis. Most senior citizens are now battling with loneliness and others have been forced to look for activities to beat boredom brought by the pandemic.

“Though we have not witnessed a surge in deaths in the elderly, Covid-19 has taken a toll on elderly because of loneliness. Imagine going for all those months without going to church, attending any social gathering, not seeing their grandchildren, and some even afraid to go to hospital for follow up of pre-existing conditions. All these while they have been confined indoors. We have little measure of the inherent shift in mental health. Only time will tell. We must watch closely for early signs of depression among the elderly like never before,” adds Moka.

Experts say loneliness triggers a stress response that there is an imbalance in our so cial homeostasis. This biological phenomena has been associated with increased inflammation and a hyper activation of the immune system, which, according to experts, contributes to some of the chronic diseases that older adults are already more vulnerable to developing.

Although loneliness and social isolation can affect anyone regardless of age, the elderly are particularly vulnerable, especially under the current conditions.

“Loneliness is the sense of suffering from being disconnected from other people. Loneliness is different from social isolation, which is simply not being around other people or not having close connections,” says Joseph Wanyeki Gatimu, founder Prolong Life Kenya, a non-governmental organisation that restores hope and dignity for the elderly.

Julia Gachambi, aged 81 years, from Rurii, Githurai 44, Kiambu county battled loneliness for a while, before she decided to venture into poultry farming.

It is now five months and she hasn’t set her eyes on any of her children. Some lost jobs due to the pandemic, others live far away from her and others are willing to come and visit, but they are fearing for her safety.

“I have nine children, but all of them fear that if they come home they will be exposing me to the disease. I have been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, thus a compromised immune system. All this time we have been communicating via mobile phone and I miss seeing them though I put my safety first,” she says.

Beating boredom Though she remains positive, she admits that the last six months have not been easy. She reveals that because of the social isolation, old memories have been haunting her to an extent of affecting her mental health.

According to her, many are the times she would lock herself in the house to cry without knowing the reason. Other times she would embark on a journey without knowing the destination and it used to take her neighbours effort to bring her back.

And after realising that all is not well, she decided to explore ways to keep her busy. This is how she started poultry farming, something she says has helped her beat the boredom and loneliness. With the help from her children, she bought about 20, one-month old chicks and that is how she started her farming venture.

“With this project, I am always busy doing something. You will find me feeding the chicken most of the times. When not feeding them I collect leftover food from restaurant for them. With all these activities, I don’t have time to stay idle. This has really improved my mental health,” she says.

Another woman, Monica Wangeci, who is in her mid-90s and takes care of her grandchildren says that though her children haven’t abandoned her, she has been abandoned by the church and neighbours who she used to rely on.

Wangeci who lives in Kiangiciri slums, Githurai 44 used to receive gifts and donations from church and neighbours before Covid-19 struck, but

now the amount of help she is getting has reduced. Apart from that she has not been receiving visitors as she used to.

“The worst part is that the church has not been creating unique home service opportunity for me as they used to do before. Once in a while they used to conduct the mass here, but this hasn’t happened since coronavirus started. I hope now that the government has announced that people can attend church, things will go back to normal,” she says. And to ensure that her grandchildren don’t go hungry, she has started a vegetable farming project. Her grandchildren have been taking care of the farm.

“I receive money from my children and they come to see me often. I also have some rental houses something, which has helped me financially. With my grandchildren around me, I cannot complain about loneliness,” she adds.

Covid-19 has not only forced many family members to end visits to parents and grandparents at their homes; also even those living at home for the aged [care centres) have been affected.

Such centres have closed doors to visitors and for those who visit, they are not allowed to interact with their loved ones. Administrators of the centres have enforced stringent rules to control the spread of the virus.

At Little Sisters of the Poor [Nyumba ya wazee) Kasarani, care givers are being accommodated at the centre to avoid daily commute that would put the elderly at risk of contracting the virus. And since the centre relies on donations, all donations are left at the reception to ensure minimal interaction.

“It has been hard for us to enforce some of the rules by the government. But we thank God we have managed and we hope all is going to be well,” says Sister Agnes Wachieni.

Other challenges Apart from loneliness, Covid-19 has amplified violence, abuse, and neglect of older people around the world, which was already on the rise, according to HelpAge International.

Wanyeki says the elderly are facing abuse not only by strangers, but also from family members who are entrusted in caring for them.

There have been media reports from across the country in which older

and vulnerable women and men have had their Sh2,000 monthly stipend from the government’s cash transfer programme stolen from them by family members including children, grandchildren and other relatives. Some of the perpetrators are reported to accompany these old people to the bank and take away the money on withdrawal “The elderly, as a vulnerable group, cannot get to where young people are scrambling for the little relief food available from the government or other organisations, especially in urban slums. It is shocking to note that those entrusted with the provisions for these poor elderly are actually stealing from them,” he says.

GACHAMBI 44 I have nine children, but all of them fear that if they come home, they will be exposing me to the disease. I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, thus a compromised immune system.

As we mark International Day of Older Persons tomorrow, we look at how measures used to contain coronavirus such as lockdowns and limited visits affected this vulnerable group


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Couple’s pain after woman offers to hold baby, then disappears without a trace



A couple’s five-month-old baby boy is missing after a woman who visited them in Utawala offered to hold him to allow his mother time to finish washing her clothes on Wednesday afternoon.

At the time, baby Harold Ochieng was crying and his mother, 24-year-old Pauline Ilenje, who had strapped her baby to her back, needed time to finish with her laundry.

“She requested to hold him until I was done with cleaning and I agreed,” said Ochieng’s mother.

Unbeknown to her, the intention of the woman, only identified as Aisha, was not good. Pauline unstrapped her child and handed him over to the woman without any qualms. Aisha is said to have been visiting the couple’s neighbour that day.

After finishing her laundry, Pauline realised that the woman who had offered to hold her baby had vanished.

What followed later were hours of panic and a painful search for her baby as the reality that her child had been stolen started hitting home.

Shocked at the turn of events, Pauline made frantic calls to her husband David Ochieng (43), a casual labourer, but she could not reach him.

“I then rushed to Utawala police post to file a report where the officers told me to look for my neighbour and report back to the station with him,” she said.

At around 1pm, her husband called her and informed her that he would join her in the search but, before getting home, he called their neighbour asking for the whereabouts of his visitor.

At around 4pm, the neighbour returned and left in a rush but the couple caught up with him and reported back to Utawala police post for questioning.

She came and left quickly

“Officers at the station then asked us to search for Aisha, whose house we traced to Githunguri in Kiambu County. However, we did not find her there. The door was open but no one was inside. Neighbours told us they spotted her come and leave with a baby and a bag,” Pauline’s husband says.

The couple then returned to Utawala to update the police on their findings, but they were referred to Ruai police station where they were asked to continue with the baby’s search until yesterday afternoon.

“We wondered how we could continue with the search even past curfew hours but we did it anyway without a police escort,” said the baby’s father.

The couple decided to return to Githunguri where they were hopeful that they might find the woman at her house.

Unfortunately, the woman had not returned. Instead, they found a young girl identified as Diana who confirmed that the woman lives there but was not in.

Yesterday, the couple returned to Ruai police station where they recorded a statement and shared their child’s image for circulation.

“The officers informed us that they are tracking the woman’s phone to establish her whereabouts,” Pauline told the Nation.

Police also questioned the couple’s neighbour and the girl who was found at the woman’s house in Githunguri.

“Our neighbour now claims that the woman was his laundry person and not the girlfriend,” she said.

Officers at Ruai police station declined to comment on the matter.

by Nationafrica

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VIDEO: Bonus Value Add for Garden of Joy customers



Finally, it’s all joy for those who bought the Garden of Joy (GOJ). Optiven has pulled a positive surprise by kicking off the installation of hundreds of green solar lights along all the estate roads. The launch happened today when the GOJ was declared a green project.

The engineer installing this green energy friendly street lights lauded Optiven for being an Eco-friendly organization and openly subscribing to suitable development goals no 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and no 7 ( Affordable and clean energy)

Among the guests who attended this event was Justina Syokao of the popular 2020 hit song.

The installation was packed with joy as the Garden of Joy joined other Optiven projects that have already gone green.

We urged all our customers to join the green movement by building houses that have natural light, use water recycling technologies such as bio digester, trees planting and managing waste.

This project is now ready for occupation and customers have already started building fast and furious

The plots are on offer at 1.295M up to the 30th October. The offer will be 1.495 from 1st of Nov

Secure your property today with only 200k and enjoy a 12 months installment plan

If you want to join this green project, get in touch with us Today:
Phone: 0790 300 300 | 0723 400 500
Visit our Website for more details:
We were live at Garden of Joy.

Kindly click the link, share and let’s create engagement as we talk about how we can participate in the Green Agenda. #GardenOfJOYgoesGREEN


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Grace Ekirapa: I’ve been unable to access DJ Mo since cheating scandal



Grace Ekirapa, who hosts NTV’s gospel show Crossover 101, has revealed that she had not been in touch with her co-host DJ Mo since rumors he was cheating on his wife Size 8 rocked the internet a fortnight ago.

Ever since reports emerged that DJ Mo, real name Sammy Muraya, was cheating on his wife of seven years Size 8 causing a social media frenzy, the DJ was barred from co-hosting the show with Ekirapa and is thought to be busy trying to glue his marriage together.

Weighing in on the scandal rocking the marriage of her co-host, Ekirapa revealed that she had been trying unsuccessfully to reach out to DJ Mo.

“I haven’t spoken to him and to be honest. It’s been hard for me to get to him. My phone calls haven’t been going through, I know it’s been difficult for him and I think when he is ready he will talk to me. Meanwhile the show has been going on without him but that’s the management’s decision.” Ekirapa revealed during an Interview with Radio Jambo.

She, however, felt DJ Mo should be given a second chance.

“What I will have to say is, when you get saved you won’t stop sinning, you can’t be perfect but there will be consequences. We make mistakes. DJ Mo is an amazing guy and if there’s a chance of working with him again, I would love that.” She added.

The singer also delved into the rumors that once emerged that she was having an affair with DJ Mo, a married man.

“During the launch of Crossover is when the rumor started. We had done a couple of photo shoots on different days and most of the time his hands was on my shoulder or mine on his and so people got talking.” she explained.

by NN

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