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1 in 5 Older Adults Faced Worsening Mental Health and Increased Anxiety Due to Covid-19 Pandemic

Image for representational purposes only.

Image for representational purposes only.

Adults in the 50-80 age group felt more depressed or hopeless, nervous or anxious, and stressed. Nearly 64 per cent also faced trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during Covid-19.

The mental health and sleep of nearly one in five older adults worsened since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020, according to a survey. More than one in four were found to be more anxious or worried than before the Covid-19 era, according to the National Poll on Healthy Ageing. The poll, conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation in the US, involved more than 2,000 adults aged 50 to 80. The participants were surveyed in late January when vaccination was just opened for the elderly. The older adults felt more depressed or hopeless (28 per cent), nervous or anxious (34 per cent), and stressed (44 per cent). Nearly 64 per cent also faced trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least once.

However, the poll also revealed long-term resilience in many older adults. Over 80 per cent of adults noted that their mental health is as good as, or better than, it was 20 years ago and about 29 per cent maintained that they have made a lifestyle change such as exercise, diet, and meditation to improve their mental health since the start of the pandemic.

“As we enter a new phase of the pandemic, with most older adults getting vaccinated, it’s important to ensure adequate access to mental health screening and care to detect and address any lingering effects of this prolonged period of stress," said Lauren Gerlach, Geriatric psychiatrist at Michigan Medicine.

“This is especially important to those who might have a harder time accessing mental health care, including those with lower incomes and worse physical health," Gerlach added.

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Nearly 71 per cent also stated that they would not hesitate to see a mental health professional in the future, and 13 per cent said they had talked with their primary care provider about a new mental health concern since the pandemic began

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first published:May 04, 2021, 19:06 IST