A new study has found that the Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the mental health of older people living in the community.
Using data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), the researchers found that 43 per cent of adults aged 50 or older experienced moderate or high levels of depressive symptoms at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"These findings suggest the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic persist and may worsen over time and underscores the need for tailored interventions to address pandemic stressors and alleviate their impact on the mental health of older adults," said researcher Parminder Raina from McMaster University.
For the study, published in the journal Nature Aging, the team used telephone and web survey data to examine how health-related factors and social determinants such as income and social participation, impacted the prevalence of depressive symptoms during the initial lockdown starting March 2020 and after re-opening following the first wave of Covid-19 in Canada.
Caregiving responsibilities, separation from family, family conflict and loneliness were associated with a greater likelihood of moderate or high levels of depressive symptoms that got worse over time.
Women were also more likely to have higher odds of depressive symptoms during the pandemic compared to men, and a greater number of women reported separation from family, increased time caregiving as well as barriers to caregiving.
Overall, older adults had twice the odds of depressive symptoms during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic. But those with lower income and poorer health, either due to pre-existing health conditions or health concerns reported during the pandemic, experienced a greater impact.