The Covid-19 lockdown led several older adults to adapt and engage with technology — such as Zoom, WhatsApp or FaceTime — to stay in touch with loved ones or participate in exercise classes or religious groups, finds a new study.
The participants reported that lockdown had led them to engage with neighbours and other members of their communities for the first time, while several said social distancing had brought an additional meaning to life, by highlighting what was important to them. “Those who engaged in such activity were able to prevent high levels of loneliness, therefore, helping older adults to increase their digital literacy and use of remote social interactions could be a really important tool for addressing loneliness,” said researcher Anna Whittaker from the University of Stirling. According to the research, understanding the coping mechanisms adopted by some over the 60s during the pandemic will play a key role in developing interventions to help tackle loneliness, isolation and well-being in the future.
For the study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the team surveyed 1,429 participants — 84 per cent (1,198) of whom were over 60.
The researchers examined the impact of social distancing during the pandemic on loneliness, wellbeing and social activity, including social support.
More than 150 participants reported that their religious gatherings had moved online — replacing face-to-face gatherings — while 91 said that social gatherings with family and friends had changed in favour of online ‘games nights’.
The role of community — particularly neighbours — was mentioned by more than 300 participants.