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[NYC STATE OF MIND] Pandemic hits older adults mentally, socially

Mental health and social wellness suffered among adults ages 70+ living in the community in New York City, according to research from the global health division of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Active-aging organizations - particularly seniors centers and area agencies on aging - should be aware of the findings and help ensure that their constituents are getting the services they may need, especially as the delta variant has spurred a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases.

A total of 676 participants (60% women) responded to the 70-question telephone survey. Almost two thirds of the sample (62%) were ages 70-79 and 38% were over age 80, all living in various NYC boroughs. Overall, 18% of participants screened positive for depression and 17% for anxiety. Latinx participants were most likely to screen positive for depression (29%) and anxiety (19%).

Of note, 34% of those ages 80 and older and 16% of those 70-79 do not have internet access, which may limit potential solutions. Further, 22% of participant households do not own or use computers, smartphones, or tablets.

More than one third (37%) of participants reported that COVID-19 impacted their lives in a negative way a lot or somewhat. Specifically, 69% said COVID-19 created financial problems for them or their household a lot or somewhat; since the start of the epidemic, 8% said that often or sometimes there was not enough to eat in their household, and about 31% reported receiving food from a food pantry, community organization, or the government.

More than two thirds (68%) reported interacting with people a lot less since COVID-19 started. One percent reported physical violence and 4% reported experiencing verbal violence.

Forty-three percent said that worrying about someone sick with COVID-19 has impacted them

a lot/somewhat. Participants reported relying primarily on family (61%), friends (41%), and a partner/spouse (36%) for mental, physical, and social support including activities such as transportation and household tasks.

For some potential solutions, see the news on Canada’s GenWell survey, Get Connected, above.

To download the full SILVER study, click here


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