National Poll on Healthy Aging Reveals Findings on Older Adult Mental Health During the Pandemic

May 12, 2021

According to new findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, nearly one in five older adults say their mental health has gotten worse since the pandemic began in March 2020, and an equal percentage say their sleep has suffered in that time too. More than one in four say they’re more anxious or worried than before the COVID-19 era, according to a new poll of people age 50 to 80.

Women, people in their 50s and early 60s, and older adults who have a college degree or higher were more likely than others to report worse mental health than before the pandemic, according to the new findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging. Older adults who say their physical health is fair or poor were most likely to report worse mental health, with 24% saying this.

And when asked about the last two weeks before they were surveyed, the percent who said they had concerning mental health symptoms was even higher, with 28% saying they felt depressed or hopeless in that time, 34% saying they’d been nervous or anxious, and 44% saying they’d recently felt stressed.

Just under two-thirds (64%) said they had had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least once in the past week, twice the percentage who said this in a 2017 poll of a similar group of older adults.

The poll also reveals hopeful signs that many older adults are showing long-term resilience. Two-thirds say their current mental health is excellent or very good. Just over 80% say their mental health is as good as, or better than, it was 20 years ago.

For more information, visit the National Poll on Healthy Aging here.