COVID-19 insights series Impact of COVID-19 on wellbeing of older people in Aotearoa New Zealand

Published: December 2022

Te Hiringa Mahara is producing a series of short reports during 2022 and 2023 to add our collective understanding of the wellbeing impacts of the pandemic and to provide key insights on wellbeing areas or populations of focus.

Impact of COVID-19 on wellbeing of older people in Aotearoa New Zealand

In this report, we show that older people contributed greatly through the pandemic, often coping and supporting others across a range of areas - despite often facing worse impacts of the pandemic.

The report also shows the following:

  • While older people tend to experience better wellbeing than other age groups across a range of measures, predictably, the pandemic had negative impacts on wellbeing
  • Different parts of the older community experienced the pandemic in different ways – the challenges faced often exacerbated existing inequities in wellbeing, and the factors that affect it
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has changed attitudes toward ageing and older people, with older people being positioned as vulnerable, less adaptable and a burden on the rest of society
  • Older Māori, Pacific and Asian people were often highly connected within their own communities, highlighted by their ability to leverage whānau and community support to access health services, food and necessities
  • Whilst the pandemic led to more loneliness amongst older members of the community, kaumātua worked hard to maintain connections with their communities and whānau in a variety of different ways.

It is important that our understanding of the pandemic, and our planning for the future – both responding to crises and supporting wider wellbeing – recognises that older people are not one monolithic group.

We call for greater involvement of older people in decision-making that affects them, greater understanding of and research into the diverse needs and experiences of older communities, and greater recognition and leverage of the agency and contributions of those communities.

Read other reports in the Covid-19 insights series