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Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportional impact on the population of older adults worldwide, and this has been no different in the United States. Since the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S. in March 2020, the CDC has warned older adults to stay at home as much as possible, classifying them as a high-risk group for the disease. While cases of COVID-19 are equally spread throughout the population, hospitalizations and deaths have hit the older population hardest. As of November 2021, 94 percent of total COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are among adults aged 50 and older.

COVID-19 vaccinations among older adults

Vaccinating older adults is thus one of the top priorities of the United States’ public health sector. As of November 2021, the percentage of older adults who were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is over 86 percent, much higher than the general population. In certain states, like Vermont, the share of fully vaccinated elderly has reached 98 percent. The numbers are promising despite a survey from less than a year ago that found the likelihood older U.S. adults would get a COVID vaccination when it became available was just over 60 percent among those aged 65 to 80 years. Effort still needs to be made for the rest of the roughly 20 percent unvaccinated, who may not necessarily be vaccine hesitant but may simply have difficulties accessing the vaccine due to age, disability, or frailty.

Loneliness among older adults

In 2019, around a third of elderly women and one fifth of elderly men in the United States lived alone. Even though living alone does not equate to being lonely, it does make one more socially isolated which can contribute to loneliness. The repercussions of loneliness have been a focus of recent research. A survey from before the pandemic on feelings associated with loneliness among U.S. adults found that nearly half of adults felt alone at least sometimes and 43 percent said their relationships with others were not meaningful. The survey report stated that “loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity”. Since the pandemic, with many restrictions in place, older people’s lives, in particular the amount of social contact they had, have been severely affected. A survey in 2020 on older U.S. adults’ feelings of loneliness before and during the COVID-19 pandemic found that they felt an increased lack of companionship and isolation from others just three months into the pandemic. Another report in August 2020 revealed that nearly a fifth of older women said the longest time they went without interacting with others since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was two to three months, and a small percentage had not interacted with others outside their home or work at all.

Mental health impact of COVID-19

Increased isolation and loneliness have added to the stress and anxiety of these unstable times, and it is no wonder that the mental health of the United States has suffered due to COVID-19. Older generations do seem to be more resilient compared to their younger counterparts and have reported less anxiety and depression symptoms during the pandemic. Nevertheless, nearly a third experienced these symptoms and only a small percentage said their health care provider had asked them about mental health issues since the COVID-19 pandemic started. More focus should be given to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the elderly as they have endured much, if not more, than any other age group.

Key figures

The most important key figures provide you with a compact summary of the topic of "Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults in the U.S." and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

COVID-19 vaccinations

Loneliness & Isolation

Mental health

Health care services

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 36 most important statistics relating to "Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults in the U.S.".

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults in the U.S.

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Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportional impact on the population of older adults worldwide, and this has been no different in the United States. Since the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S. in March 2020, the CDC has warned older adults to stay at home as much as possible, classifying them as a high-risk group for the disease. While cases of COVID-19 are equally spread throughout the population, hospitalizations and deaths have hit the older population hardest. As of November 2021, 94 percent of total COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are among adults aged 50 and older.

COVID-19 vaccinations among older adults

Vaccinating older adults is thus one of the top priorities of the United States’ public health sector. As of November 2021, the percentage of older adults who were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is over 86 percent, much higher than the general population. In certain states, like Vermont, the share of fully vaccinated elderly has reached 98 percent. The numbers are promising despite a survey from less than a year ago that found the likelihood older U.S. adults would get a COVID vaccination when it became available was just over 60 percent among those aged 65 to 80 years. Effort still needs to be made for the rest of the roughly 20 percent unvaccinated, who may not necessarily be vaccine hesitant but may simply have difficulties accessing the vaccine due to age, disability, or frailty.

Loneliness among older adults

In 2019, around a third of elderly women and one fifth of elderly men in the United States lived alone. Even though living alone does not equate to being lonely, it does make one more socially isolated which can contribute to loneliness. The repercussions of loneliness have been a focus of recent research. A survey from before the pandemic on feelings associated with loneliness among U.S. adults found that nearly half of adults felt alone at least sometimes and 43 percent said their relationships with others were not meaningful. The survey report stated that “loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity”. Since the pandemic, with many restrictions in place, older people’s lives, in particular the amount of social contact they had, have been severely affected. A survey in 2020 on older U.S. adults’ feelings of loneliness before and during the COVID-19 pandemic found that they felt an increased lack of companionship and isolation from others just three months into the pandemic. Another report in August 2020 revealed that nearly a fifth of older women said the longest time they went without interacting with others since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was two to three months, and a small percentage had not interacted with others outside their home or work at all.

Mental health impact of COVID-19

Increased isolation and loneliness have added to the stress and anxiety of these unstable times, and it is no wonder that the mental health of the United States has suffered due to COVID-19. Older generations do seem to be more resilient compared to their younger counterparts and have reported less anxiety and depression symptoms during the pandemic. Nevertheless, nearly a third experienced these symptoms and only a small percentage said their health care provider had asked them about mental health issues since the COVID-19 pandemic started. More focus should be given to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the elderly as they have endured much, if not more, than any other age group.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 36 most important statistics relating to "Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults in the U.S.".

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