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How do seniors cope with pandemic? Team surveys articles to find answers


The COVID-19 pandemic has had world-wide devastating impacts on older adults, their families, health care systems, and society as a whole. A team of experts from multiple institutions has been conducting research, education and practice at the intersection of aging and public health to better understand how older adults have dealt with the pandemic.

Collectively, they have recently released an editorial chronicling the collection of articles on COVID-19, Aging, and Public Health published as a special research topic in both the journals of Frontiers in Public Health and Frontiers in Medicine.

The COVID-19, Aging, and Public Health research topic prompted submissions that seek more knowledge about how older adults perceived the risks of COVID-19 and followed recommended guidelines, in addition to how they interacted with friends and family and navigated their communities and homes. It also looked to understand more about how older adults dealt with health care and social services during the pandemic.

The team included Marcia G. Ory, Regents and University Distinguished Professor with the Texas A&M School of Public Health and faculty affiliate of the Texas A&M Center for Population Health and Aging, and colleagues Emily Joy Nicklett from The University of Texas at San Antonio; doctoral candidate Kimson E. Johnson from the University of Michigan, and Tzvi Dwolatzky from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology.

“This collection of 40 articles broadly examines the impacts of COVID-19 on older adult populations, as well as future directions in research, policy and practice,” Ory said. “As we are embarking on the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to understand the evolution of the disease, as well as changing public health responses. Our hope is that lessons learned in the first two years from various geographic regions and populations can help mitigate the worldwide effects on older adults, their families and communities.”

Drawing insights from the articles published under the research topic, the editorial outlines six themes about COVID-19, aging and public health issues. These themes included: public health and ageism; health care and social service responses; health equity and social determinants of health; social isolation and social support; risk perceptions and coping; and active aging and health-related behaviors during the pandemic.