Factors that promote resilience for older adults and their informal caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Mara Rosenberg, Elizabeth Eckstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The aim of this cross-sectional, descriptive study was to characterize the impact of modifiable activities on older adult mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and to understand the interaction between older adult behaviors and the mental health of their informal caregivers. Methods: This study leveraged the National Health and Aging Trends Study and associated Family and Friends survey completed 2020–2021. Participants included 3,257 community dwelling older adults and 2,062 associated unpaid caregivers, weighted sample sizes 26,074,143 and 21,871,408, respectively. Results: Older adult engagement in volunteering, religious, or group activities was associated with decreased older adult depression, as was increased walking or vigorous activity. However, online compared to in-person participation correlated with greater loneliness in older adults and anxiety for their caregivers. Finally, increased appreciation by the care recipient correlated with decreased caregiver depression. Conclusion: Overall, a close interaction exists between caregiver and older adult behavior and psychiatric symptoms. Online activities are not an equivalent substitute for in-person activities during required social isolation; however, they remain superior to no participation. Further, increased walking and caregiver appreciation may ameliorate some of the harms of isolation. Health care providers should continue to promote engagement, exercise, and appreciation as ways to improve older adult and informal caregiver mental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAging and Mental Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • anxiety
  • caregivers
  • COVID-19
  • depression
  • loneliness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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