The epidemic has a greater impact on socially connected older individuals than on isolated peers.

The epidemic has According to a new study by UCL (University College London) experts, socially connected older adults suffered a sharper drop in their quality of life and life satisfaction and a larger increase in loneliness during the pandemic than their more isolated counterparts.

The study, which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), examined survey data from 4,636 English respondents between 2018 and the end of 2020, with an average age of 67.

Professor Andrew Steptoe, co-author and head of the UCL Department of Behavioural Science & Health, stated, “It makes sense that older adults who were already socially isolated would be more susceptible to the pandemic’s disruptions and limitations.

The epidemic has a greater impact on socially connected older individuals than on isolated peers.

The epidemic has “In fact, our study suggests the opposite—that isolated older people were somewhat protected from the negative aspects of pandemic restriction, perhaps because they had less to lose in terms of social connections.”

Data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a nationally representative population study conducted in England, was examined by the researchers. Interviews with participants took place in 2018–19 and twice in 2020, in November/December and June/July.

Depending on their frequency of contact with friends and family, whether they lived with a partner, and whether they were involved in clubs, groups, or societies, just under a third (29%) of respondents were classified as socially isolated.

The epidemic has Although these older persons who were socially isolated had lower life satisfaction, a lower quality of life, and a higher level of loneliness before the pandemic, their decline in these areas in 2020 was less pronounced than that of their contemporaries who were more socially attached. Due to a roughly half-fold fall in life happiness, older persons who were isolated during the pandemic experienced life satisfaction levels comparable to those of those who were more socially attached.

Lead author Claryn Kung, a senior researcher in the Department of Behavioural Science & Health at UCL, stated: “It is possible that older individuals with stronger social ties had more disruptions to their regular schedules and rhythms. Conversely, people who were more isolated would have seen comparatively fewer changes in their everyday lives; their regular schedules and plans might have been less vulnerable to disruptions due to limitations during the pandemic.

The epidemic has a greater impact on socially connected older individuals than on isolated peers.

The epidemic has “Our findings highlight the need to care for isolated older adults, but also to be attentive in times of crises to the impact of major disruptions in social activity.”

The study discovered that solitary people, in contrast to these effects, continued to be more prone to worry about their future financial situation and saw a higher fall in their levels of physical activity, expanding the difference between the two groups. While their more socially connected classmates used the internet more, they did not, on average, change their chance of using it.

The epidemic has The US National Institute on Aging, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and the UK’s National Institute for Health and Social Care Research (NIHR) all provided funding for the study.

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