(Photo Credit: Sanofi Pasteur/2012 licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

In a survey conducted among older New Yorkers living in the community, more than a third reported negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic on their lives and well-being. The SARS-CoV-2 Impact on Lives and Views of Elderly Residents study (SILVER study) conducted by ICAP at Columbia University, solicited information from nearly 700 randomly selected New Yorkers 70 years or older to gain a clearer understanding of the emotional and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic among this group.

“Adults over 75 years have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those who resided in long-term facilities,” said Abigail Greenleaf, MPH, PhD, who leads the SILVER research team at ICAP. “However, many questions remain as to the effects of the pandemic on older persons living in the community, who have been compelled to isolate from others during this crisis.”

Key study findings included the following:

  • More than a third of older New Yorkers reported negative effects of COVID-19 on their lives, two-thirds reported financial challenges, and almost one in ten reported not having enough to eat;
  • Overall, 18% of older adults screened for depression and 17% for anxiety; with Latinx participants reporting higher rates of depression (29%) or anxiety (19%) compared to other racial and ethnic groups;
  • Income, race, and employment status were related to worse mental health outcomes;
  • Lack of internet service prevented a significant number of older New Yorkers from connecting to others and accessing telehealth services, information sources, and COVID-19 vaccine appointments;
  • While a majority of participants indicated the intention to be vaccinated, vaccination rates and intentions were lowest among Black participants, mirroring the nationwide trend noted among Black Americans.

“The SILVER study has shed light on the urgent social and mental health needs of older New Yorkers living independent of a long-term care facility,” said Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA, ICAP global director. “These results should inform the kinds of services older adults need now and in similar situations in the future.”

This SILVER survey was supported by the New York Community Trust, the Samuels Foundation, and an anonymous donor.

“Surveys of this kind are critically important for a comprehensive response to a pandemic such as this one,” said El-Sadr.  “Without these data, entire segments of the population could risk slipping through the cracks.”

Read the survey summary report here

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