Necessary but not sufficient: examination of older adults’ connectedness with their online social contact during COVID-19

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: This study examined the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and physical distancing requirements on engagement with and sense of connectedness to social activities among older adults.
Method: Community-dwelling cognitively healthy older adults (N = 126) completed self-report questionnaires post-lock down (November 2020 to February 2021) assessing participation format (face-to-face with restrictions, online), frequency of attendance, and connectedness with a range of existing social groups.
Results: Thirty-two percent of participants stopped and had not re-engaged with social activities post lockdown. These participants reported the lowest connectedness ratings and quality of life related to psychological health than compared to those who continued to engage with social groups, albeit in a controlled format. Adapted face-to-face formats were associated with significantly greater connectedness than engagement via online methods for hobbies, cultural activities, meal entertainment, and other social activities, but not for sporting, community, religious, or volunteering activities. Qualitative data suggested online social participation was not as enjoyable as adapted face-to-face formats.
Conclusions: For older adults who attended social activities via online formats, sense of connectedness was reduced for some activities. Given the importance of social connectedness for well-being in late life, interventions may be needed to help older adults re-engage in face-to-face formats without restrictions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-85
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Volume59
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jun 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • ageing
  • Covid-19
  • loneliness
  • mental health
  • social connection
  • technology

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