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Examining the Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on the Mental Health on Chronic Disease in Elderly Populations

According to the US Census Bureau (2019), there were approximately 5.1 million elderly people (age 65 plus) living in the United States. During the peak of the COVID-19 epidemic, prior to vaccines becoming available, elderly people were advised to limit their in-person socialization with people who were unvaccinated or those whose vaccine status was unknown. With continued limits on socialization, even now with fear of the Delta variant and vaccine immunity waning, COVID-19 continues to cause social isolation and loneliness amongst this age group. A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) (2020) found that the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the economic downturn, has created a backwash with one in four adults reporting increased anxiety and/or depression.
From May 2020 through July 2020, the number of adults (age 18+) who reported unfavorable mental health with symptoms of anguish and apprehension increased by 22%. Feelings of communal isolation, loneliness, deprivation, and sorrow, related to the COVID-19 pandemic (Koma, True, Biniek, Cubanski, Orgera and Garfield, 2020) in the elderly is important to investigate when studying the overall impact of the pandemic in this vulnerable group. Within this group, females, Hispanics, individuals with lower income, individuals with compromised health, individuals recently unemployed, and/or individuals living alone reported experiencing the most impact to their mental health.
The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (2020), and US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, (NIH, 2021) have chronicled the connection between loneliness and increased risk of premature death, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and suicide, which are all factors influencing the social determinants of health (SDOH). These relationships are important, as healthcare focuses on improving healthcare quality and improved outcomes for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly.


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