Critter Corner: Grandparents Are Experiencing Better Emotional Well-Being Than Others During The Pandemic

Dear Magic,

My grandmother lives alone in a rural part of Virginia. We are concerned about her emotional well-being during the coronavirus pandemic, but don’t want to visit in fear of bringing germs to her home. I hear that older people are managing the best out of everyone on the mental and emotional front. Have you heard anything about this being true?

Thanks for your help!

Wella Beeying

Dear Wella,

Hope your grandmother is healthy and doing well!

You are correct about how seniors are managing the best of everyone emotionally and mentally during the coronavirus pandemic.

New research suggests that despite the increased vulnerability in becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID-19, seniors felt less stressed and threatened by the pandemic and experienced better emotional well-being than others.

In a study of 776 Americans and Canadians during March and April, a University of British Columbia researcher found that its older participants (ages 60+) were faring better emotionally and mentally than others during the pandemic. Another study, from think tank AgeWave and investment company Edward Jones, surveyed 9,000 people in the U.S. and Canada across five generations and also found that older adults are doing better in the pandemic than younger generations.

When asked how well they were coping with the impacts of COVID-19, 39% of the Silent Generation (ages 75+) and 33% of boomers (56-74) surveyed said “very well,” which decreased to 29% for Generation X (40-55), 26% for millennials (24-39) and 31% for Gen Z (18-23). Twenty four percent of the millennials and Gen Zers answered “not well,” compared to 15% of Gen X, 12% of the boomers and just 5% of the Silent Generation surveyed.

Researchers say that this is because:

The younger generation is concerned about their employment, paying off loans, and raising children.  Retirees worry less about losing jobs and caring for children They also often have Social Security and Medicare benefits to lean on in times of uncertainty.
 
Older people have experienced stress throughout their lifetimes and tend to be better positioned to handle life’s challenges. For younger people with less lived experience, the COVID-19 pandemic might be the first major crisis they’ve encountered.  
Older people tend to recognize which stressful situations are ones that can be changed, and which are ones that can’t. And they use different approaches depending on the answer. Dealing with stress is a skill that can be improved and developed over the course of a lifetime.
Often, younger people are afraid of getting older, lonely and sad, but psychological well-being is actually maintained often in seniors. Contrary to stereotypical ideas about older people, the AgeWave/Edward Jones study found that while self-rated physical health declines with age, self-rated mental health tends to improve over the lifespan.

As you can see, younger people could benefit from the emotional intelligence of older people. Older persons could be helping young people who are frightened and struggling to calm down, see the silver lining, or grow closer to family.

But even though she may be coping well with the pandemic, grandparents always appreciate being contacted by their family. As often as you can, please call your grandmother or, if she is tech savvy, FaceTime or Skype or Zoom her. She will always be glad to talk and see you and to know that you care!

Stay healthy,

Magic

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