May. 07, 2020

Despite their status as a high risk group for contracting the coronavirus, adults 60 and over are more anxious about their family and friends’ wellbeing than their own, a new BGU study has found.
Prof. Galit Nimrod​ (pictured above) of BGU’s Dept. of Communications Studies and BGU's Center for Multidisciplinary Research in Aging surveyed 407 internet users aged 60 and over in April during the fourth week of the general lockdown in Israel. The respondents answered questions about their current wellbeing, sources of anxiety over the coronavirus spread, and changes in internet use following the pandemic onset.

Study participants were more worried about immediate threats to their health, financial situation or social isolation than they were about the possible long-term impacts of prolonged lockdown. Worry for their family and friends, however, was significantly higher than worry about one’s own circumstances, Prof. Nimrod discovered.

Nimrod found that internet use had spiked dramatically, especially internet-based communication technologies such as Zoom, Whatsapp, Skype etc. Significant positive associations were found between Covid-19-related stress and increase in internet use for interpersonal communication and online errands. It was only increased internet use for leisure, however, that associated significantly with enhanced wellbeing.

“Instead of spending so much time video conferencing, older adults should take advantage of the internet’s opportunities for leisure, which results in enhanced wellbeing. Online games, listening to music, watching videos, studying and even exercise and volunteering all may bring both distraction and satisfaction, even if they are not as enjoyable as elders’ normal routines,” according to Nimrod.

Overall, Nimrod found that those already suffering from ill health, those less well educated and immigrants exhibited more anxiety. The older the respondent, however, the lower the levels of anxiety.

The study was carried out under the auspices of the BGU Coronavirus Task Force initiated by BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz to harness the ingenuity and resources of the University to tackle the myriad challenges of the pandemic.

Media Coverage:
Israel 21C