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At times of pandemic, NESTORE partners survey our coping strategies

In Italy and Spain, NESTORE partners Fundació Salut i Envelliment of the UAB (FSiE) and the Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI) sounded out how the confinement measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our health and wellbeing.

The two institutions surveyed different populations:

1. In Catalonia, Spain, FSiE is consulting older people aged 65 and more online and via phone calls to reach out to the most digitally excluded. The survey, which is still running, has received 2500 responses in Catalonia..

2. In Lombardy, Italy, POLIMI in partnership with Villa Miralago, have collected more than 6,600 responses from all age groups living in the region, the majority (73%) being aged between 18 and 49 years old. Collected online after three weeks of confinement, the responses all come from people with access to the internet that have digital devices and are familiar with technologies.

Both surveys explored (1) the psychosocial status of respondents, and (2) individual activities or collective solidarity actions set in place during confinement to cope with the pandemic.


Increased free time, increased self-care?

The two studies reveal that the psycho-emotional state of respondents is being challenged by the current situation.

Preliminary results in Spain show that although a small proportion of people are experiencing memory loss, respondents report that their psycho-emotional state is worsening. Despite these difficulties, there is a positive response of the older people provided a lot of positive insights too: if they consider being physically more vulnerable, but a significant part of them has also developed individual strategies to cope with the situation.

They maintain contacts with neighbours, family and friends and do many activities at home, etc. The definitive and more detailed analysis will provide information in relation to the different age groups, gender or level of education in order to develop actions plans more responsive to the older people’s needs.

Similar findings in Italy show an increase in signs of psycho-physical discomfort. In Italy, only a few respondents have taken advantage of the increased free time to take care of their well-being. On average, respondents sleep worse, eat more, do little physical activity… but rediscover the kitchen and the pleasure of cooking. Moreover, 4 out of 10 stated that the climate in the home has become stressful, 15% even conflictual.

These results tend to confirm the preliminary findings of the Eurofound survey on living, working and COVID-19. The European agency reports that “countries hardest hit by the pandemic see most significant impact on their well-being.”


Time for the great resistance!

In response, FSiE has launched the #GRANRESISTENCIA to shed light on the coping strategies of older people during confinement. In collaboration with local media and institutions, the initiative aims at challenging the stigmatisation of older people as only vulnerable by highlighting their capacity to overcome difficulties associated with prolonged confinement thanks to their own creativity and social networks.

FSiE also plans to deliver tailored recommendations in videos to help the older people, as well as the whole population, to sustain their psycho-emotional and cognitive well-being.


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