Mental Health And The Elderly During The Covid 19 Pandemic
During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the rates of depression and anxiety are high among adults ages 65 and older relative to rates in 2018, with one in four reporting anxiety or depression during most weeks since the onset of the pandemic – an increase from one in ten older adults who reported anxiety or depression in 2018.
Cultural, racial, and generational differences in conceptualizing and reporting mental health issues likely impact the extent to which people of different ages do or do not identify and report depression and anxiety. For older adults in particular, depression is often misconstrued as a normal part of the aging process and thus may go unrecognized and untreated. Increased rates of anxiety and depression among older adults during the pandemic may be compounded by existing barriers to mental health treatment. Some populations experience more difficulty accessing mental health care or who may face more pronounced stigma surrounding mental health issues and mental health care may still be unaffordable for older adults. Additionally, finding a provider can be difficult for older adults. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, legislative and regulatory changes have been made to expand access to Medicare coverage of telehealth services for traditional Medicare beneficiaries during the coronavirus public health emergency, including for mental health services. It is currently unknown if expanded access to mental health services via telehealth will continue once the public health emergency has expired.
The coronavirus pandemic has continued to spread across the country, and there is growing concern about the increased risk of spread during the fall and winter months. Older adults face the challenge of mitigating risk while avoiding loneliness and isolation which can lead to poor mental health. Home care services can bridge the gap for the elderly who are in their homes and are isolated from love ones. Having a caregiver to assist the elderly with meal preparation, errands, medication pick up and supervision, companionship, housekeeping and assistance with bathing, dressing, laundry or any other services needed can be helpful. This service is covered by Private pay, long term care insurance, Veteran benefits and Medicaid.