Older adults show better emotional resilience, coping strategy during pandemic

July 28, 2020
Older adults show better emotional resilience, coping strategy during pandemic

Older adults were more emotionally resilient while younger adults were at greater risk for loneliness and psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic, so suggests a new study by the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada. It upends previous misconception that older adults may face greater mental health challenges during this troubled time.

Graduate student at UBC, Patrick Klaiber, and colleagues analysed the level of stress and emotional well-being in about 780 Canadian and US participants, during the first weeks of the pandemic. They found surprising results.

The difference in stress levels varied inversely with age: younger age predicted more concerns about the threat of COVID-19, while older adults showed better emotional well-being and less reactivity to stressors, despite being exposed to similar stressors.

“Younger and middle-aged adults are faced with family- and work-related challenges, such as working from home, homeschooling children and unemployment,” Klaiber explained. “They are also more likely to experience different types of ongoing non-pandemic stressors than older adults, such as interpersonal conflicts.”

Older adults, meanwhile, are faced with the extra pressure of higher rates of disease contraction and more severe impacts. Klaiber believes that older adults possess more coping skills and life experience that serves to balance these extra risks.

Remarkably, older adults have adapted to the situation very well and keep their mood up in various ways, such as remote social interactions. In contrast, “younger adults need to create more opportunities for physically-distanced or remote positive experiences as a way of mitigating distress during the pandemic,” Klaiber said.


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