Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the lives of countless members of the general population. Older adults are known to experience loneliness, age discrimination, and excessive worry. It is therefore reasonable to anticipate that they would experience greater negative outcomes related to the COVID-19 pandemic given their increased isolation and risk for complications than younger adults.
Objective: This study aims to synthesize the existing research on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and associated isolation and protective measures, on older adults. The secondary objective is to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and associated isolation and protective measures, on older adults with Alzheimer disease and related dementias.
Methods: A rapid review of the published literature was conducted on October 6, 2020, through a search of 6 online databases to synthesize results from published original studies regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults. The Human Development Model conceptual framework-Disability Creation Process was used to describe and understand interactions between personal factors, environmental factors, and life habits. Methods and results are reported following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses Statement.
Results: A total of 135 records were included from the initial search strategy of 13,452 individual studies. Of these, 113 (83.7%) studies were determined to be of level 4 according to the levels of evidence classification by the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. The presence of psychological symptoms, exacerbation of ageism, and physical deterioration of aged populations were reported in the included studies. Decreased social life and fewer in-person social interactions reported during the COVID-19 pandemic were occasionally associated with reduced quality of life and increased depression. Difficulties accessing services, sleep disturbances, and a reduction of physical activity were also noted.
Conclusions: Our results highlight the need for adequate isolation and protective measures. Older adults represent a heterogeneous group, which could explain the contradictory results found in the literature. Individual, organizational, and institutional strategies should be established to ensure that older adults are able to maintain social contacts, preserve family ties, and maintain the ability to give or receive help during the current pandemic. Future studies should focus on specific consequences and needs of more at-risk older adults to ensure their inclusion, both in public health recommendations and considerations made by policy makers.
Keywords: COVID-19; aged individuals; impact; older adults; rapid review; review.
©Audrey Lebrasseur, Noémie Fortin-Bédard, Josiane Lettre, Emilie Raymond, Eve-Line Bussières, Nolwenn Lapierre, Julie Faieta, Claude Vincent, Louise Duchesne, Marie-Christine Ouellet, Eric Gagnon, André Tourigny, Marie-Ève Lamontagne, François Routhier. Originally published in JMIR Aging (http://aging.jmir.org), 12.04.2021.