While we are all experiencing an exceptional crisis, older people remain the most at risk ones regarding infection and overall epidemic repercussions.
So far, few studies have focused on the consequences of such a situation, particularly on the psychological and social consequences of confinement.
Our team is urgently launching a survey on 1,000 seniors to better understanding why some of them will unfortunately suffer more than others.
Faced with health crises, the elderly are among the most at risk, as the 2003 heat wave in French has shown, excess mortality related to age being particularly marked in people living alone or in nursing homes. Even though the COVID-19 epidemic is far from over, it is more than likely that the elderly population will again be one of the most affected. Beyond the medical characteristics, specificities which relate to attitudes, psychological and social functioning contribute to this phenomenon.
Some studies have looked at the consequences of confinement, but none in the elderly population even though this population is particularly vulnerable at least on 3 levels:
- to the response to infectious agent;
- because of the psychosocial characteristics which make a party even more at risk of severe repercussions of the infection (dependent persons, cognitive disorders, isolated persons, living in institutions);
- to confinement situation due to reduced psychological adjustment capacity in the elderly.
SEPIA team starts a phone survey in 1000 elderly people to address the following questions:
- What are the attitudes, the psychological and social experience of the elderly facing the COVID-19 crisis and confinement: the level of stress, anxiety, social support during confinement, access to information, to the guidelines and measures implemented by government authorities, the level of understanding and adherence to these guidelines, representations of the epidemic, access to services restricted in this context or to digital communication tools?
- To what extent these characteristics, representations and attitudes have an impact on health, mortality (related and not related to COVID-19) and capacities for resilience in the face of this crisis?
This epidemic being likely to repeat itself, the knowledge that we will draw from this study should help us to communicate better towards the elderly population and establish specific instructions for seniors; but also, to better target among this already at risk category of population, the most at risk ones, in order to be able in the future to set up medico-social action plans very rapidly.
Professor of psychogerontology
Head of the Inserm SEPIA