AARP survey reveals COVID-19′s emotional impact on older adults

Nearly One-Quarter of Americans Never Plan on Retiring

AARP has reviewed the emotional impact COVID-19 has had on older adults.

The nonprofit conducted the national 2021 AARP COVID and Emotional Well-Being Survey online from April 22 to 26, 2021. It sampled 1,016 adults ages 50 and older. It used the NORC at the University of Chicago’s AmeriSpeak 50+ Omnibus probability-based sample. The data were weighted by age, gender and race based on current Census population statistics.

AARP also conducted the Healthy Living During the Pandemic Qualitative Study. It occurred from April 19 to May 4, 2021.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many people have dealt with stress. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it can cause fear, anger, sadness worry and frustration.

“Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient,” the agency said.

Although fully vaccinated people can resume activities they did prior to the pandemic, local guidance should continue to be followed. Additionally, people who are unvaccinated should still wear masks, socially distance and wash their hands often.

“When asked about mental health, most adults ages 50-plus say their mental health is very good. However, when asked about specific emotional health measures, half say they have been bothered with anxiety and/or having little interest or pleasure in doing things, and a third say they have been feeling depressed,” it said.

Older adults mostly said they’ve experienced a decrease in their emotional well-being. They had more anxiety, depression and worry. One in eight said they sought help from a mental health professional.

“This disconnect between experiencing a decline in emotional well-being and the likelihood of seeking help from a mental health provider may suggest that older adults don’t associate emotional well-being with the term ‘mental health,’” AARP said.

The organization said mental health resources must be seamlessly accessible, easy and normalized.

“Ensuring mental health and emotional well-being is addressed during all medical visits is an invaluable step toward ensuring older adults receive comprehensive care.”

To get specialized news and articles about aging in place, health information and more, sign up for our Aging in Atlanta newsletter.