The lengthy lockdown was a traumatic experience for the elderly. Now on Level 1, they can again be comforted by their friends and family.

However, they are still haunted by the forced isolation, difficult for both the elderly in old age homes and those living alone.

The digital age, however, was a source of relief. They kept contact through social media and some even dabbled in online exercising to stay fit.


Seventy-three-year-old Barbara Berkeley lives in a retirement village. The lockdown for her was a time of emptiness and loneliness. She kept herself busy, also making masks for her family. But once she dropped it off, she broke down.

“I beeped and waited for the click on the gate and opened it, inside was my daughter and two grandchildren. We just stopped and froze and looked at each other from a distance. And I just screamed: ‘I cannot do this!’ I just dropped the gift and ran across the road to my car and left,” says Berkeley as she relates how she hardly saw her family throughout the lockdown.


Felicity Lotter lives alone. She is 69 years old. First, she contracted shingles and then also the coronavirus. She spent 11 days in hospital.

Time ticked by slowly for her.

“I was wondering why me because I took all the vitamins. If I think back, I was working with other people, and perhaps did not sanitize enough. I am so glad it is all over.”


64-year-old Grissel Mtshake, a former nurse, was frustrated that she could not help her terminally ill brother.

It was a nightmare to get a permit to travel, a death certificate, and organise his burial at his rural home.

“We were told not to move fast and take the longest route as they were still digging the grave. We were supposed to be grieving but with all this, we were frantic and frustrated. So, we were riding slowly, got there and he was finally buried. Afterward, we were emotionally and psychologically drained with the way it happened.”


Some women participated in exercise classes with a trainer before the lockdown. During the lockdown they received their training updates via video. It was a source of inspiration during tough times.

Their energetic trainer, Elmarie Nel, was concerned about their isolation. She knows that movement is the best medicine for emotional wellbeing and boosting the immune system.

“So for me, as a trainer, it was important to build them motivationally, making sure that they know it is okay, and need to think every day positively and take it a day at a time.”

The women also could not wait to show their steps as a group.

More people share their experiences during this tough period: