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Health behavioural changes in older people post pandemic

02 December 2023
Volume 28 · Issue 12


This article explores the lasting effects of the pandemic on physical and mental health among older people due to behavioural change. It discusses ways in which older people can change their health behaviours once again, and regain what has temporarily been lost in their lives in terms of strength, fitness and mental wellbeing.

The pandemic not only had direct health impacts but also affected health behaviours through its multiple lockdowns and restrictions. Routines were lost and with that, so were some of the healthier behaviours once previously adopted by many people. Older adults, with their higher risk of frailty and multiple comorbidities, faced significant challenges in maintaining their health. Consequently, health behaviours were very difficult to maintain during the pandemic and obesity rates began to rise.

Harrison et al (2021) have shown that there was a reduction in physical activity since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent study by Liu et al (2023) discussed the effects of the pandemic on health behaviours, finances and depressive symptoms among the older population. They noted the significant effect of COVID-19 on the health and wellbeing of older adults. The team used the National Health and Aging Trends study (NHATS), which links to the NHATS COVID dataset. NHATS contained data of over 65-year-olds on an American insurance plan. Liu et al (2023) explored the associations between health behaviours, financial problems and symptoms of depression by using a structural equation model and found that, in comparison to males, female participants were walking less, had changed their eating habits, were sleeping less and also had a reduced alcohol consumption since the start of the pandemic.

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