OLDER Australians are more positive about the year to come than their younger counterparts, according to new research.
Australians over 60 are more resigned to move through whatever comes their way than the younger generations, under 60 years of age (44.4% vs. 36.7%). At the same time, males are also more likely to be more hopeful and positive for the future compared to females (32.4% vs 25.4%).
The Seniors and Resilience report forms part of the Australian Seniors Research Series. In its latest installment, the study explores how Australia's over 50s are continuing to adapt to the 'new normal' and remain resilient in what has been a tumultuous year. The research also compares results to some of the findings previously gathered in the Connectivity in the Age of COVID-19 report.
Associate Professor Christina Bryant, Director of Clinical Psychology at the University of Melbourne, whose work focuses on the psychology of ageing comments on the discrepancies of those over 50 - their resilience, physical and mental health impacts.
"It's no question the last few months have been testing for all of us," she said. "However, the older demographic may have a more positive outlook towards these experiences as they have learned to cope with many significant events over the years."
"The research points out that under 60s may feel less optimistic about the future and are finding it more challenging to get on with things than those over 60, which could be for a number of reasons.
"For example, they are dealing with the combined stresses of caring for older and younger generations and often still being fully in the workforce. Once people are in their 60s they may no longer be working, so concerns about job loss may not loom for them. And, the 60s tend to be a time of high well-being, which will flow into more optimism in general. These findings show us there is a job to be done to ensure those in their 50s feel supported."
Mental health still a concern
Regardless of the positive outlook to move forward, one in five (19.7%) Australians seniors report that social distancing has made their physical health worse, and one-third (33.2%) report it has made their mental health worse. And like those under 60 less optimistic about the future, this demographic reported greater mental health impacts than those over 60 years old (40.8% vs.28.6%).
Not surprisingly, Victorian seniors do report higher levels of adverse health impacts from social isolation than other states. One-third (29.7%) feel their physical health is worse off and close to half (45.8%) report their mental health is worse off.
"If feelings of being down or on edge are severe or persist, it is important to ask for help and not just put up with it," said Dr Bryant.
Telemedicine more accepted, but not preferred
Although telemedicine is widely accepted, in-person care is still the preferred option for most. Two-fifths (44.7%) view telemedicine more positively now because of the pandemic, however the preference for in-person care trumps telemedicine (48.7% vs. 4.9%). A similar amount of Australia's over 50s agree the greatest advantages of telemedicine are saving time on traveling and waiting (65.2%) and avoiding exposure to illnesses (63.6%).
Meanwhile, a similar amount think the greatest disadvantages with this health care method are inadequate assessments and possible misdiagnoses (62.2%), as well as, the potential for actually misdiagnosing entirely (58.2%).
Cherished moments of grandparenting
When comparing the findings of the two reports Connectivity in the Age of COVID-19 and Seniors and Resilience there is a 40 per cent decrease since May in those unable to care for their grandchildren (20.4% vs. 61.0%).
Meanwhile, close to half (46.2%) are still actively engaged in caring for their grandchildren, whereas only nearly one-tenth (9 %) are avoiding this due to COVID-19 concerns.