By Marie Haaland // SWNS
Over half of older adults in the U.S. said the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to be more self-sufficient, according to new research.
The survey of 2,000 Americans (aged 57+) revealed 56% believe they’ve become more independent over the past year, and seven in 10 expect these newfound feelings of self-sufficiency to last moving forward.
The survey results delved into what contributed to this feeling and revealed that having to figure out new technology played a big role.
Fifty-eight percent said technology allowed them to stay in touch with family and friends over the course of the past year, while 55% said it allowed them to have essential items delivered.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the YMCA, the survey found this ability to use technology was especially important during the pandemic, for more than just the obvious reasons.
In addition to using tech simply to stay in touch or for deliveries, 63% said it helped curb the negative impact 2020 could have had on their overall health and well-being. And 56% said technology stopped them from feeling lonely.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean there was no impact. The survey asked respondents which aspect of their health — physical, mental or social — was affected most by the pandemic.
Sixty-two percent of respondents said their mental health took the biggest hit, but those older adults turned to hobbies (63%), socially distanced visits with friends and family (44%) and exercise (44%) to help with the effect on their mental health.
And 31% of respondents said, of the three different aspects of their overall health, their mental health would be their top priority moving forward.
“The uncertainty, isolation and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have had a devastating impact on the mental and physical health of so many people, especially older adults who were at heightened risk for serious complications from COVID,” said Kevin Washington, president and CEO, YMCA of the USA. “As communities begin to recover from this extraordinary time, one of the Y’s top priorities will be helping people who experienced hardships during the pandemic reclaim their health.”
Respondents said they’ll feel safe returning to their normal routine/pre-pandemic life within two months after being vaccinated.
For those who plan to be vaccinated, respondents are most looking forward to taking care of their loved ones (52%), attending social gatherings (39%), and just seeing their loved ones in person (37%).
More than half of respondents who plan to receive the vaccine said they plan to return to their health club/community center (52%), and nearly half of those plan on going a few times a week (42%).
Those respondents rated socializing with other members and staff at the top of what they look forward to most while there, followed by attending group exercise classes and attending healthy living programs/workshops.
And if the past year has a silver lining, 54% of respondents said they feel closer to their neighbors because of the pandemic and 54% said that the pandemic ultimately helped to strengthen their local community.
“Whether in times of crisis or times of stability, trusted community-based organizations like the Y always are focused on making sure our neighbors have access to the support and resources they need to live a healthy life and move their communities forward,” Washington added.
WHAT ARE AMERICAN SENIORS LOOKING FORWARD TO, POST-VACCINATION?
- Taking care of my loved ones in person 52%
- Attending social gatherings in friends’/family’s homes 39%
- Seeing my family/friends in person 37%
- Hugging my loved ones 35%
- Traveling for leisure 31%
- Meeting new people 27%
- Attending entertainment events 27%
- Eating in restaurants 25%
- Hosting social gatherings in my home 25%
- Traveling for work 24%