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The University of Southampton
Ageing & GerontologyPart of Economic, Social & Political Science

The Impacts of COVID-19 on Older People in Indonesia - Dr Elisabeth Schröder-Butterfill

Published: 9 June 2020

The ESRC project on Care Networks in Indonesia, led by Dr Elisabeth Schröder-Butterfill, Lecturer in Gerontology, Department of Ageing and Gerontology started in October 2019. In early March, Nathan Porath, the project’s post-doc, visited Jakarta and provided training to the group of anthropologists responsible for data collection. Ethnographic field research was due to begin in six Indonesian communities in April. Then COVID-19 struck Indonesia, and the start of fieldwork was delayed indefinitely. However, thanks to input from the team of researchers in Indonesia, we have been able to contribute short pieces of writing to a new website dedicated to the impacts of coronavirus on older people in developing countries. The “Letters from Indonesia” are based on reports by the project’s anthropologists about the communities they live on, about social distancing guidance being disseminated by the government and social media, news stories and updates from NGOs active in the field of older people’s care. The messages are invariably mixed. On the one hand, they attest to the difficulties older people have in accessing medical care, the challenges of implementing social distancing in overcrowded neighbourhoods, the loss of income suffered by older people and their families. On the other hand, they capture the generous community support that has emerged, often targeted specifically at older people, the ways in which the pandemic has brought families closer, and the humour sometimes used in conveying difficult messages.

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