Older adults may cope better with the mental health effects of COVID-19 than other age groups

Older adults may cope better with the mental health effects of COVID-19 than other age groups

Older adults are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – with a higher risk of severe complications and death, and possibly greater difficulties in obtaining care and adapting to technologies such as telemedicine. Point of View article was published in Journal of the American Medical Association He notes that there are also concerns that isolation during a pandemic may be more difficult for older individuals, which could exacerbate existing mental health conditions. However, the information gathered over the past several months points to a more accurate picture.

During the spring and summer of 2020, we were amazed by a number of individual studies from around the world that reported on a consistent theme: Older adults, as a group, seem to withstand the mental health stresses of the pandemic better than all. Other age groups. In this article, we highlight some of these studies and discuss resilience in older adults and the factors that may drive it.

Ibsett Fahia, MD, lead author, Medical Director of Outpatient Services for Psychiatry on Aging and Institute of Technology in Psychiatry at McLean Hospital

Resilience may reflect an interaction between internal factors – such as an individual’s stress response, cognitive ability, personality traits, and physical health – and external resources such as social connections and financial stability. For elderly people who are in isolation during a pandemic, having meaningful relationships appears to be more important than having more interactions with others, and maintaining these relationships may require using technology to communicate with loved ones.

Resilience can be supported by increasing physical activity, enhancing empathy and emotional regulation, and increasing social contact. Technology can play an important role in achieving this. “It can help maintain social contact, provide access to telemedicine care, and also facilitate a range of other activities that may help deal with isolation,” said Fahia. “It is becoming increasingly important for clinicians to evaluate patients’ access and competence with technology as part of care.”

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The authors stress that although results from the first months of the pandemic are encouraging and provide reason for cautious optimism, they may not reflect individual realities. “The elderly are a very diverse group, and each person’s response to the pressures of the epidemic depends on a unique set of circumstances,” Fahia said. “Additionally, current studies may not reflect specific high-risk populations with unique stresses, such as those who live in deprived areas or those with dementia or the caregivers of people with dementia.”

Most importantly, the pandemic continues without a set timetable or a clear end in sight. The long-term effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of older people, especially in countries with very high infection rates, are unclear.


Journal reference:

Fahia fourth Et al. (2020) Older adults and the effects of COVID-19 on mental health. Gamma. doi.org/10.1001/jama.2020.21753.

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