New data on the mental health state of older New Yorkers shows 48 percent of people who identify as Latin American reported higher rates of depression or anxiety compared to other demographic groups. ICAP’s SARS-CoV-2 Impact on Lives and Views of Elderly Residents (SILVER) study assessed self-reported mental health experiences among New York residents 70 years and older, and a third of them reported that COVID-19 affected them negatively.
Several factors related to worse mental health outcomes for older people as a result of the pandemic include income, employment, food security, race, and interpersonal relations.
“We need to think about the long-term impact of pandemics like COVID-19 on people in preparation for future epidemic response,” said Abigail Greenleaf, MS, PhD, associate research scientist with ICAP, who was part of the SILVER research team. “The SILVER study gives us an idea of what the social and mental health needs of older New Yorkers living independent of a long-term care facility. Results from the survey will inform what kinds of social services older people will need in similar situations.”
The phone survey involved 676 participants aged 70 and above who live either by themselves or with relatives.
A few key findings from the study show that survey participants of Latin American descent were most likely to report knowing someone who died from COVID or tested positive for COVID. Also, a more significant percentage of older Latin American adults screened for anxiety and depression reported more loneliness than other ethnicities.
With key social services, including employment and medical consultations, moving to web-based platforms to keep going, researchers found it surprising that approximately 1 in 5 older New Yorkers (20%) had no internet to connect to others during the pandemic limiting access to telehealth services, information sources, and COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
ICAP presented the research findings to the Samuels Foundation, the New York Community Trust, and an anonymous donor who funded the study. The Samuels Foundation and the New York Community Trust support programs and services that promote older people’s health and quality of life.