Health Officials Discuss COVID-19’s Impact on Older Adults’ Mental Health in Latest Tele-Town Hall

Two years of living through a pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of many Americans — and especially older adults. More than 2 in 5 adults 50-plus (43 percent) say COVID-19 has made them more concerned about the future, while more than 1 in 3 (35 percent) say the pandemic has caused them to worry more, according to a recent AARP survey.

Samoon Ahmad, a clinical psychiatry professor at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, and Brijesh Mehta, director of neurointerventional surgery at the Memorial Neuroscience Institute, joined us for a recent tele-town hall to discuss the impact COVID-19 has had on older adults’ mental health.

“The stress of the pandemic has been difficult on everyone, and I would include myself in that equation,” Ahmad said, noting that “the circumstances for seniors have been uniquely difficult” because COVID-19 tends to be more severe among older populations.

Mehta also pointed to research suggesting a correlation between COVID-19 and worse mental health outcomes down the road. “What we have seen as lingering effects of COVID, even in folks who may have been asymptomatic, is depression, anxiety, just generalized fatigue and malaise,” he said, suggesting he’s seen this in “30 to 40 percent” of COVID patients.

Ahmad and Mehta also noted that, even though COVID-19 remains a concern for many older adults, people should follow through with check-ups and doctor appointments — especially if they’ve avoided the doctor since the onset of the pandemic.

Watch a replay of Thursday’s program and our previous tele-town halls.

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