To Your Health
August, 2020 (Vol. 14, Issue 08)
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Coping With the Pandemic: Who Needs Our Help the Most?

By Editorial Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting just about everyone, regardless of whether you've actually been infected or suffered any symptoms. Mental and emotional health is taking a huge hit over time, between work stoppages, social restrictions, and general fear and uncertainty.

But is one particular age demographic suffering more than another? You'll be surprised to know the answer.

According to new research, older adults are faring than any other adult age group in terms of emotional coping. You might not expect this to be the case, since older adults have generally been the most shuttered due to their high risk of complications from COVID-19. But adults ages 60 and older report better emotional health than younger adults (18-39) and middle-aged adults (40-59).

In their study, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, researchers suggest young and middle-aged adults may suffer more from pandemic restrictions because they have challenges many older adults no longer have, such as working remotely, caring for / homeschooling children, maintaining financial stability for the family, etc. Interpersonal conflicts and other non-pandemic stressors are also more prevalent in younger / middle-aged versus older adults.

pandemic - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Older adults still suffer from isolation, loneliness, and of course, fear of contracting the virus, but also may be more equipped to handle it due to their coping skills, experience and wisdom. They are also the first group people worry about, which may lead to a greater degree of attention from and interaction by friends and family members.

So, who needs our help the most? It may be the youngest adults, not only because they appear to be suffering the most, but also because they may benefit the most. According to the study,  younger adults rely heavily on social interactions, which accounts for their emotional struggles during the pandemic. However, this also suggests that finding ways to ensure younger adults can maintain those social interactions – not just via social media and online platforms, but also (and perhaps more importantly) by in-person events that conform to appropriate public health guidelines – is critical.

Whatever your age, if you're having difficulty coping emotionally with the pandemic, it will eventually affect your physical health as well.  That's why both are important aspects of whole-body wellness. Ask your doctor about the best strategies to stay healthy and well during these challenging times.