The impact of Long Covid on families and friendships

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that, “An estimated 2.0 million people in private households in the UK (3.0% of the population) were experiencing self-reported Long Covid as of 2 January 2023,” however this only shows a fraction of those impacted by the ongoing effects of Long Covid.

Aside from the strain and discomfort caused by the medical symptoms of Long COVID, it has been shown to affect many other areas of life. The ONS figures show that “Almost 6 in 10 (57%) of those who may have experienced Long COVID reported this had negatively affected their general well-being; around 4 in 10 (39%) reported it had negatively affected their ability to exercise and 3 in 10 (30%) reported it had negatively affected their work.”

Financial issues arising from a reduced capacity to work can put a strain on whole families. The Opinions and Lifestyles Survey reported, “Of those who may have experienced long COVID, almost a quarter (22%) reported their household finances had been affected by the pandemic.” This is exacerbated by the cost of living crisis, and the fact that Long COVID has not affected the population evenly. The ONS statistics published in March 2023 showed that “Self-reported long COVID was more common in:

● those aged 35 to 69 years

● females

● people living in more deprived areas

● those working in social care

● those aged 16 years and over who were not working and not looking for work

● those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability”

Therefore, those with Long COVID might be more likely to already be at a socio-economic disadvantage, and with less likelihood of a financial safety net. This results in additional stresses being placed on whole families (and other dependents). With the mean age of parents in England and Wales being between 31- 34 years old, the 35 - 69 age group is also more likely to have dependents to support, including older family members.

As well as financial pressures, mental health issues are a recognised symptom of Long COVID, which has an impact, not only on those with Long COVID but also those living with or supporting them. Anxiety and concern for a partner or child who is unwell can take its toll on the mental health of those living with a sufferer of Long COVID. Social isolation can further increase issues with depression, as an inability to go to work or maintain former social interactions can result in lost friendships and a narrowing support system. “Those who reported that they may have experienced long COVID were also more likely to report being often or always lonely” according to the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey. Of the people that reported their well-being was affected in this survey, 30% saw a strain on their personal relationships, with 23% feeling like they were a burden on others. In younger sufferers “many kids suddenly find themselves struggling to keep up with their schoolwork or skipping sports.” a Yale report found. This can also have a serious impact on the development of social relationships.

These issues are not straightforward to resolve, but it is necessary to be aware that the long-term repercussions of Long COVID impact widely on many aspects of people’s lives.

Covid Aid is here to provide support and information for anyone suffering from Long Covid or living with someone who is dealing with Long Covid and there are resources that can help.

  • If you would like peer support and access to a range of resources you can join our online Support Community for free, here

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