Older people have contributed greatly to their communities through the COVID-19 pandemic whilst managing increased loneliness and a range of other challenges. This is according to today’s Te Hiringa Mahara – the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission report The impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of older people in Aotearoa New Zealand.
“Our report highlights that while older people tend to experience better wellbeing than other age groups, the more vulnerable elderly face more negative impacts of the pandemic than others, with impacts continuing to affect their wellbeing,” says Dr. Filipo Katavake-McGrath, Te Hiringa Mahara Director of Wellbeing System Leadership and Insights. “Anxiety and fear continue to be a challenge for older people”
Attitudes toward ageing and older people have changed. While attitudes have often become more positive, older people were also positioned in media as vulnerable and less adaptable.
“Older people have contributed greatly through the pandemic, often coping, thriving, and supporting others. Kaumātua worked hard to maintain connections with their communities and whānau in a variety of different ways.” “Kaumātua were at the centre of stories of community and whānau wellbeing during lockdown. While not being able to participate in tangihanga was a particularly difficult challenge for Māori kaumātua, they had a key role in adapting tikanga to offset the impact of COVID-19.
“The pandemic has taught us lessons for future crises and supporting wellbeing in general. As a result, we call for greater recognition of the involvement of older people in their communities and inclusion of older people in decision making affecting them.
“It is important that our understanding of the pandemic, and our planning for the future recognises that older people have a variety of different experiences, needs, and contributions.”