Studies Show Older Adults Coped Better With Pandemic Stress
Seniors Also Experienced Greater Concern About COVID-19
All of us experienced some degree of stress due to the pandemic. There were strains on our relationships, our work, and our routine. Certainly, many seniors in particular felt significant concern about the risks associated with getting COVID-19. But did that stress cause them to experience more negative emotions?
A study conducted at Stanford University surveyed the emotions of nearly 1,000 people aged 18 to 76 across the United States in April 2020, at the height of attention surrounding the pandemic. Participants were asked questions regarding their emotional state during the past week and given a variety of positive and negative emotions to choose from. While seniors and those in younger generations both reported the same stress levels, the seniors’ moods remained more positive.
It is important to note that this was not a sweeping truth for all seniors—many seniors did experience negative emotions like fear, anxiety, and depression during the pandemic. But in general, the study suggests that seniors had a greater ability to cope with stressors and preserve their emotional well-being. Why is this the case? Researchers suggest the following:
- Seniors focus on the present. They take life one day at a time. All of us can learn from this practice of mindfulness. In times of great stress—like the pandemic—grounding yourself in the present can help ease worries about the future.
- Seniors practice something referred to as “radical acceptance.” In a Very Well Health article, Dr. Myra Altman of Modern Health defines this as “acknowledging that whatever is happening at this moment is happening and not trying to fight it.” If you accept a stressful situation, you can eliminate some of the worry and stress and focus on the present in a more productive way.
Try to adopt some of our seniors’ coping techniques the next time you are experiencing stress. You might just find you are better able to cope and stay positive on a daily basis.
Are you or a loved one experiencing stress due to a senior’s desire to continue living at home but an inability to do so safely? The PACE program for seniors uses a community-based approach to support the needs of seniors in Cuyahoga County. Reach out to speak to a team member and discuss how McGregor PACE’s services for eligible seniors might be able to help you and your family.