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Publication Detail
A qualitative study about the mental health and wellbeing of older adults in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    McKinlay AR, Fancourt D, Burton A
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    BMC Geriatrics
  • Volume:
  • Article number:
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  • PII:
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  • Keywords:
    Covid-19, Mental health, Older adults, Social support
  • Notes:
    This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.
OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to examine factors that threatened and protected the wellbeing of older adults living in the UK during social distancing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: Semi-structured telephone or video interviews with 20 adults aged over 70. Purposive sampling methods were used to increase diversity within the group. Transcripts were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. RESULTS: Participants described potential threats to their wellbeing during the pandemic, including fears for mortality, grieving normal life, and concerns for the future. Participants also described activities and behaviours that helped to protect their mental health, including adopting a slower pace of life, maintaining routine, socialising, and using past coping skills. Many participants drew on their resilience and life experience to self-manage fear and uncertainty associated with the pandemic, using their time during lockdown to reflect or organise end-of-life affairs. DISCUSSION: This study provides UK-based evidence that while someĀ older adults experienced challenges during the first wave of COVID-19, many were resilient throughout social distancing restrictions despite early reported concerns of mental health consequences among the older adult population. Our findings highlight the importance of maintaining access to essentials to promote feelings of normality and use of social support to help reduce uncertainty in times of pandemics.
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