Challenge and Resilience – Older Adults Respond to the Pandemic
As older adults felt the full impacts of COVID-19, no group is better suited to model resilience and develop a response to the pandemic. A research collaboration between the Saskatoon Council on Aging (SCOA) and the University of Saskatchewan elevated voices of older adults during the pandemic.
From November 2021 to March 2022, older adults 55 and over from Saskatoon and area participated in a research study to understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of older adults. A total of 409 individuals completed the survey, and 49 participated in focus groups. Research focused on six themes: Respect and Belonging, Connection, Experiences with Healthcare, Mental and Physical Health, Safety and Older Adults Challenges, Concerns and Needs During the Pandemic.
Challenges included access to physical activities, access to healthcare and getting supplies. Top concerns of older adults included overload of the healthcare system, a loved one getting COVID and becoming sick themselves. Respondents reported difficulties during the pandemic including separation from families and loss of volunteer roles, surgical delays, experiences of ageist attitudes in society, and other issues. They also told us of “silver linings”; a slower pace of life, being able to access healthcare not previously available via technology, and learning to use new technologies to connect with family and friends. They told us stories of their resilience, and expressed their desire to be part of restoring divisions that emerged in society as a result of public health measures and other pandemic issues.
“Saskatchewan’s always been a resilient bunch, and it’s going to find a way out of this. And the big thing is healing the divides that have been formed.”Research Study participant
Participants identified actions to improve quality of life for people as they age including a collaboration among healthcare professionals, community providers and older adults to address the stigma towards mental illness and decrease barriers to mental health support.
I think with seniors, because we are from the generation that does not talk about it, so there again we need to be the ones who are helping to open up those barriers to discussion.Focus Group participant
In-depth reports on research results are being completed. The final Beyond the Pandemic Report will be presented at Saskatoon Council on Aging Annual General Meeting May 30 1 pm, Meeting Room 3, Saskatoon Field House. This research will shape SCOA’s response to decision-makers and plan responses in the event of future crisis situations.
For more information, phone (306) 652-2255 or visit www.scoa.ca
A non-profit organization, the Saskatoon Council on Aging is a leader in the promotion of dignity, health and independence for older adults in an age-friendly community.