Stressors and perceived consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic among older adults: a cross-sectional study using data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Background

    The indirect consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in older adults, such as stress, are unknown. We sought to describe the stressors and perceived consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults in Canada and to evaluate differences by socioeconomic factors.

    Methods

    We conducted a cross-sectional study using data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging COVID-19 Exit Questionnaire (September-December 2020). A 12-item checklist was used to assess stressors (e.g., income loss, separation from family) experienced during the pandemic, and a single question was used to measure perceived consequences. We used a generalized linear model with a binomial distribution and log link to estimate prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between socioeconomic factors, stressors and perceived consequences.

    Results

    Among the 23 972 older adults (aged 50-96 yr) included in this study, 17 977 (75.5%) reported at least 1 stressor during the pandemic, with 5796 (24.4%) experiencing 3 or more stressors. The consequences of the pandemic were perceived as negative by 23 020 (63.1%) participants. Females were more likely to report most stressors than males, such as separation from family (adjusted prevalence ratio 1.31, 95% CI 1.28-1.35). The perceived consequences of the pandemic varied by region; residents of Quebec were less likely to perceive the consequences of the pandemic as negative (adjusted prevalence ratio 0.87, 95% CI 0.84-0.91) than those of the Atlantic provinces.

    Interpretation

    These findings suggest that older adults across Canada experienced stressors and perceived the pandemic consequences as negative, though stressors and perceptions of consequences varied by socioeconomic factors and geography, highlighting inequalities. Future research will be needed to estimate the impact of stress during the pandemic on future health outcomes.

publication date

  • July 2022