Although many seniors recently polled reported feeling more alone, less independent, and sadder during the course of the pandemic, older adults also said they used technology more since the onset of COVID-19 to manage their health with virtual doctors visits.
According to a recent national poll of 1,003 seniors over the age of 64, older adults not only faced mental wellness challenges during the pandemic, but 52 percent also reported their physical activity levels decreased since March 2020 and 26 percent said they got less sleep each night. While four in five seniors used telehealth channels to stay on top of their physical health issues, only 3 percent said they had met virtually with a mental health specialist.
Many of the in-person opportunities for social interaction, physical activity, and health care management have re-opened to the public, but the changes seniors experienced during the pandemic are expected to have a lasting effect on what older adults value most. Spending time in person with family and friends topped the list of values and priorities for seniors polled and 53 percent said they plan to travel when pandemic restrictions end.
The coronavirus pandemic also highlighted social and economic inequalities that have influenced how people spend their money. Especially for Black seniors, the pandemic drove a change in spending habits – 42 percent said they would prefer to give their business to companies that address issues of social equity and equality and make a positive impact in their communities.
Affordable housing, access to nutritious food, combating social isolation, and providing access and training to utilize technology are just some of the many factors that contribute to the health and wellness of seniors. As healthcare providers increasingly recognize the importance of treating the whole health of older adults, the overall wellbeing of seniors and their communities can be better served.
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