The onset of COVID-19 in March 2020 created enormous stress for people globally. However, the COVID pandemic and the elderly was particularly disruptive.
An interesting report The Impact of COVID-19 on Older Adults: Findings from the 2021 International Health Policy Survey of Older Adults published by the Common Wealth Fund in late 2021 shed important light on this critical issue. Here is a summary of some of the key findings.
Older adults in the U.S. were the most likely to experience economic difficulties related to the pandemic
- U.S. older adults depleted most or all of their savings or lost their employment four to six times more than several European countries.
- Latino/Hispanic and Black older adults were far more likely than white older adults to report economic hardships related to the pandemic in the U.S.
23% of older adults in the U.S. reported not receiving required help due to service cancelation or limited access
- Activities listed included help with housework, meal preparation, medication management, or shopping from caregivers, family, or friends.
- Service disruption was higher in the U.S., Australia, UK, and Canada than in most other countries, including France, Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden.
Reasons why older Americans were reluctant to get vaccinated
- Lack of trust in the government or in vaccinations, as well as concerns about side effects were the reasons most cited for not being vaccinated.
- Lack of vaccination availability was also a reason. They reported that when vaccinations were readily available, the percentage of older adults getting vaccinated was higher.
The Common Wealth Foundation found that:
- Older adults living in the U.S. faced greater economic and service interruptions than other affluent countries because of the pandemic. They also noted that barriers to care were also a significant problem in the U.S. before the pandemic.
- The pandemic created a greater need for telemedicine which helped to reduce the impact of COVID. This enabled healthcare providers to care for patients without direct contact. The use of telemedicine will probably continue even after the pandemic diminishes.
- Messages addressing the lack of confidence in government and vaccinations need to be promoted to increase vaccine usage. This continues to be true as COVID will most likely be an ongoing issue.
Take a closer look at the The Impact of COVID-19 on Older Adults: Findings from the 2021 International Health Policy Survey of Older Adults report to review the data and additional information.
Here is another interesting resource for learning more about the impacts of COVID on the elderly. Older Adults and COVID-19: Implications for Aging Policy and Practice 1st Edition by Edward Alan Miller.
Check out the new ebook Keep Elderly People Active that empowers adult children of elderly parents and others with the ammunition to help older loved ones remain active and healthy.