Protecting and Improving the Lives of Older Adults in the COVID-19 Era

J Aging Soc Policy. Jul-Oct 2020;32(4-5):297-309. doi: 10.1080/08959420.2020.1780104.


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of people throughout the world, either directly, due to exposure to the virus, or indirectly, due to measures taken to mitigate the virus' effects. Older adults have been particularly hard hit, dying in disproportionately higher numbers, especially in long-term care facilities. Local, regional, and national government actions taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have thus served, in part, to shield older adults from the virus, though not without adverse side effects, including increased social isolation, enhanced economic risk, revealed ageism, delayed medical treatment, and challenges getting basic needs met. This special issue of the Journal of Aging & Social Policy explores the myriad ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has affected older adults and their families, caregivers, and communities. It proposes policies and strategies for protecting and improving the lives of older people during the pandemic. It draws lessons for aging policy and practice more generally, given underlying challenges brought to the fore by government, provider, community, and individual responses to the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; ageism; bereavement; caregiving; disparities; economic security; long-term care; nursing homes; public policy; transitions.