Understanding the Pandemic’s Impact on Mental Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the mental health for older adults – which can have implications on their physical health. In January 2021, the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging asked a national sample of U.S. adults age 50–80 about their mental health and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on their mental health symptoms. A few of their findings indicated that:
Older adults experienced issues with depression and anxiety as well as trouble with sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- One in five (19%) reported experiencing worse depression or sadness, and 28% reported worse anxiety or worry, since the start of the pandemic.
- Since March 2020, nearly one in five adults ages 50–80 (19%) reported worse sleep than compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Two in three (64%) said they regularly had trouble falling or staying asleep one or more nights in the past week.
More than one in four older adults said that for several days or more within the past two weeks they had little pleasure in doing things (29%) or felt depressed or hopeless (28%). One in three (34%) reported feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge, and 44% said they felt stressed. More than one in three older adults (37%) reported feeling a lack of companionship and 46% reported feeling isolated from others in the past year. Nearly half of adults age 50–80 reported feeling regularly stressed and isolated from others.
Expanding Access to Behavioral Health Providers
While mental health conditions are treatable, nearly one in three older adults said they might have some hesitation about seeking mental health care in the future according to this recent poll. This suggests there is still more to be done to address stigma and ensure access to affordable mental health care.
The pandemic also created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders as in-person care may have been restricted due to lack of PPE, social distancing, quarantine, and patient and staff preferences.
Removing the physical barrier between patients and mental/behavioral health providers helps patients continue receive the care and expertise they need during the current pandemic. Virtual care can help drive better outcomes for patients and improved satisfaction for patients, their family caregivers, and their providers by:
- Minimizing care deferrals during the pandemic
- Delivering greater efficiencies with a more convenient provision of care
- Growing one’s practice and gaining an additional revenue stream by attracting new patients
- Providing better continuity of care for high-risk patient populations
- Decreasing readmissions by addressing gaps in care
- Driving loyalty and trust amongst patients, their family caregivers, and their community
Implementing Synzi to Deliver Needed Care
With Synzi, one can conduct virtual visits with patients who prefer a more convenient method for their appointment or are anxious about in-person visits during the pandemic. Multiple participants can be brought into the video call including colleagues, specialists, home health clinicians, a medically certified interpreter, and the family caregiver. Patients can also use bidirectional communication to quickly access their providers with questions or in a time of need. Visits to the ER and rehospitalizations can be minimized as patients receive the support they need, when they need it most.
Providers can also use Synzi’s platform to send patients a cadence of scheduled communications via email or text. Messaging can be customized to the patient’s condition, medication regimen, recommended coping strategies, and language preference. More frequent touchpoints – whether via virtual visits or messaging – improves patient satisfaction and outcomes while evolving the delivery of higher quality and more timely care and support.