Covid-19 One Year Later: Silver Linings and Older Adults

March 1, 2021: Covid-19 Brings Challenges and Silver Linings for Older Adults and Family Caregivers

The pandemic that emerged in early 2020 had a monumental impact on aging adults and their families. Not only did COVID-19 take a toll on older adults physically, the isolation and loneliness that ensued created an even greater risk for many vulnerable seniors. And for thousands of families, caregiving became a new way of life.

“A lot of families were thrown into a caregiving role,” noted Home Instead® Gerontologist and Caregiver Advocate Lakelyn Hogan, Ph.D. “Family members were finding themselves with more responsibilities and sometimes trying to support aging loved ones from a distance.”

“Others have been sandwiched between kids and work and caregiving responsibilities,” explained C. Grace Whiting J.D., CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving. “Research has shown that Covid-19 contributed to added stressors that have forced family caregivers to go above and beyond.”

Aging adults have faced a different challenge. With lockdowns ordered in cities and care communities throughout North America, so many older adults found themselves completely alone. “The number one impact Covid-19 has had on older adults is feelings of loneliness and isolation,” Whiting explained.

Families and Communities Find Ways to Support Older Adults

Despite the challenges that so many aging adults and their families faced, there were silver linings in the pandemic.

“There’s been a rise in volunteerism,” Whiting said. “For example, the Nextdoor app launched a help map and groups to bring neighbors together.”

Volunteers are also able to participate in remote service opportunities, like writing a letter to a senior pen pal to help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation among older adults.

“Another [silver linings] is people feeling more comfortable with technology,” Whiting said. “I used to say to my parents and in-laws, ‘let’s do video calls.’ It was like pulling teeth, but now they’ve gotten more comfortable with it.”

Among the most significant benefits are more of an emphasis on family and awareness of caregiving. “Families were looking for more ways to connect and keep their seniors safe in an ever-changing pandemic,” Hogan said.

Share Your Silver Linings

From grandchildren who are now connecting remotely with their older loved ones more than they ever did in-person prior to the pandemic, to aging parents who are now thriving at home with their adult children after the decision was made to bring them home from a facility, there is good news to share. The team at Home Instead would love to hear your silver linings story.

  • Are you part of a new multigenerational family living situation?
  • Do you know a senior who has adopted a pet for companionship or receives regular visits from someone else’s pet?
  • Do you know volunteers who have organized activities that help aging adults feel more connected to their communities?
  • Has a volunteer, community member or professional caregiver helped seniors adjust to lockdowns in some way?
  • Is there an older adult you know who has learned a new skill or started a new hobby since lockdown began?
  • Do you know someone who is using a skill to give back to others, like this 84-year-old who knit scarves for the homeless?


“It’s important to continue a dialogue about the positives,” Hogan added, “because this isn’t over. We need to be ready for the months ahead. Positive thinking, a focus on hope and attention to mental wellness will help.”

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