Impact of social isolation and coping strategies in older adults with mild cognitive impairment during the covid-19 pandemic: A qualitative study

Maryam Farhang, Claudia Miranda-Castillo, Maria Isabel Behrens, Eduardo Castillo, Sandra Mosquera Amar, Graciela Rojas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic imposed a psychological burden on elderly and particularly individuals with cognitive impairment and dementia. Few studies have investigated the quarantine experiences of older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Objectives: The objective of this study was to explore the experiences and feelings of older adults with MCI during the COVID-19 outbreak in Chile and to know what strategies they used to overcome social isolation. Method: A qualitative design was used. Ten participants with a diagnosis of MCI took part in this study. All interviews were recorded and coded using thematic analysis. Results: The thematic analysis identified three themes related to the quarantine experience of older adults with MCI diagnosis: (1) Effects of social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic (2) Believes, feelings and behaviors about the SARS-CoV-2 virus (3) Coping with social isolation/response to difficulties during the pandemic. It was found that older adults with MCI have been mainly psychologically and socially affected by social distancing and isolation, particularly individuals who were alone during COVID-19 outbreak. The only physical dimension negatively affected was the level of activity. Social isolation led to a significant number of negative emotions such as anger, fear of contracting the virus or possibility of contagion for their families, worries and sadness as well as emotional loneliness. It is noteworthy that the majority of participants have used several coping strategies during this challenging time. Conclusion: Since social isolation and a sedentary life have been associated with poorer cognition and functionality in people with MCI, a rational plan to both prevent the progression of cognitive decline and to increase social contact, is essential. Special attention must be drawn to maintaining people physically active at home and keeping their daily routine (within the possibilities) and also to ensure social connectedness through technology. Implementation of these measures could potentially reduce negative emotions during the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAging and Mental Health
Early online date22 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • older adults
  • qualitative study
  • quarantine experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of social isolation and coping strategies in older adults with mild cognitive impairment during the covid-19 pandemic: A qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this