Eurofound published the “COVID-19 and older people: Impact on their lives, support and care” report in January 2022.
Key findings include
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, social contacts decreased in all age groups in the EU. Among older people, particularly worrying trends emerged in those aged 80+ where, in summer 2020, 18% of them reported feeling lonelier than before the pandemic and one-third had not left their home since the pandemic began.
- Mental health deteriorated for people of all ages during the pandemic, but affected young people and the 80+ age group most severely. In summer 2020, 23% of people aged 80+ felt sad more often than before the pandemic. While access to mental health services is important to many, it is also critical to address causes of mental health problems, such as social isolation and difficulties making ends meet.
- Both decreases and increases in income were less common among older people, for whom pensions proved to be a stable source of income. However, pandemic-related expenditure, such as spending on private transport and care services, caused financial difficulties, especially for low-income groups. The introduction of care services that are less dependent on income can help to improve the situation of low-income earners.
- During the pandemic, the likelihood of reduced physical activity increased with age. In summer 2020, 41% of people aged 50+ went out for walks less often than before the pandemic. To encourage healthy living, address obesity – particularly common among low-income 55- to 74-year-olds – and support positive habits, it will be important to facilitate exercise and active modes of transport across communities; this can also contribute to the green transition.
- Low-tech e-healthcare (by phone) facilitated access to healthcare during COVID-19, however, many older people still preferred face-to-face consultations and almost half of users aged 50+ who opted to use e-healthcare reported that it did not fully meet their needs. To ensure better e-healthcare provision in the future, a closer alignment with people’s needs will be required, as well as an acknowledgement that e-healthcare has limitations, especially in the provision of more demanding forms of care.
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