Older Australians tougher than you think

It’s been a tough year for everyone, and while most would have thought that a virus ‘targeting’ older people may have wreaked havoc on older people’s psyche, new research reveals what many of us already know – older people are much tougher than most people think.

A new report from Australian Seniors shows older Aussies are more optimistic than younger people. They’re ready to ‘get on with things’ in the new year, and are optimistic about being able to spend more time with family, to get out and travel and get back to activities they enjoy.

The Seniors and Resilience survey revealed that over-60s coped with the pandemic quite well. They were the most accepting of the situation and were also the most resilient.

More than one in two (52 per cent) are looking forward to putting 2020 behind them and are  hopeful for 2021. Two in five just want to get on with life and while two in five (37 per cent) believe Christmas will be compromised (but they’ll make the best of it anyway!), one third are still quite hopeful and positive about the future.

“Despite the tumultuous year we’ve all had, one third (28.7 per cent) believe our glass-half-full approach to life has helped us cope through the past few months,” read an Australian Seniors statement.

“In fact, we plan to carry this mentality with us through the festive season and into the New Year.

“With the festive season fast approaching, we know that our celebrations will likely look different this year – with fewer ‘work Christmas parties’, smaller family gatherings, less in-store and more online Christmas shopping.

“However, regardless of potential plans being compromised, nearly two in five (36.8 per cent) of us will make the best of the situation we’re served.”

One third of people over 50 are already preparing to travel this festive season.

Social distancing and isolation were the biggest concerns in 2020, with one in five saying being apart from loved ones affected their physical health worse and one in three reporting it had affected their mental health.

Since the pandemic, 45 per cent are receptive and positive about telemedicine, 34 per cent turned their attention from interstate and international travel to instead travel within their own state and 20 per cent spent more time than usual at home with their immediate family.

“Moving on, it seems having something to look forward to has helped us get through these uncertain times,” said the report.

“Although we might have had to cancel overseas holiday plans, we are excited and grateful to travel within our state (33.9 per cent) and spend time with family (19.8 per cent) as the year comes to a close.”

Respondents said they had also adapted to technology, with 12 per cent learning new technology to overcome work and social barriers. One in 10 used the pandemic lockdowns to explore new income-generation opportunities.

The survey’s key findings reveal that making lemons out of lemonade is something at which older Australians have become adept.

“I think that one of the things to take out is that basically people are very resilient,” Associate Professor Christina Bryant, director of clinical psychology at the University of Melbourne, told the Herald Sun.

“They go through tough times, but when the opportunity comes to connect with family or resume being grandparents, people are pretty quick to get back to that.”

Those aged in their 50s reported greater feelings of mental and physical stress heading into 2021, likely due to other factors such as looking after children, elderly parents and work.

Do you feel you are resilient to crisis and change? How have you coped?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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