Pandemic is Disrupting Healthcare Routines Challenging Psyche of Americans Across Generations

Even as older adults (ages 65+) generally face higher risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19, the pandemic is taking a much greater emotional toll on America’s younger “Sandwich Generation,” according to new research released today by MDVIP and Ipsos.

The nationwide poll of Americans ages 35 and over found that six out of ten adults ages 35-49 are feeling more stressed, anxious and/or depressed during the COVID-19 pandemic (60% vs. 41% of adults 65+), and one in two say there have been times where they felt like they were losing their mind (49% vs. 15% of adults 65+).

Often caught in the middle of caring for both dependent children and aging parents, Americans in the so-called Sandwich Generation are experiencing more psychological distress due to the pandemic than older cohorts.

  • Nearly one in two adults ages 35-49 admit to developing unhealthy habits during the pandemic, such as overeating, drinking and not exercising (47%), compared to one in four adults 65+ (27%).
  • One in two adults ages 35-49 report that whenever they cough or have a headache, they worry that they have COVID-19 (49%), compared to 28% of those 65+.
  • Adults ages 35-49 are nearly twice as likely as the 65+ cohort to say they are not getting the recommended amount of sleep since the pandemic started (30% vs. 16%).

Delayed Medical Care
The MDVIP/Ipsos survey reveals other indicators of the pandemic’s widespread impact on Americans, including how many struggled to receive, and in certain instances provide, medical care during the height of the crisis.

  • One in two Americans say they or someone in their household canceled/postponed an in-person doctor’s appointment (48%); 10% say their doctor’s office was closed when they tried to schedule an appointment.
  • Nearly one in four (23%) say they or someone in their household canceled/postponed an elective procedure/surgery (e.g. colonoscopy, knee surgery) or imaging test (e.g. X-ray, MRI, mammogram).
  • Only 14% received a personalized phone call or email from their doctor’s office with COVID-19 information.
  • Nearly a third made a telehealth appointment to be treated by their doctor (30%).
  • Three out of four who identify as a caregiver to an adult family member/friend say the pandemic has made it more difficult for them to provide care (72%).

“Our latest research uncovers the many challenges and uncertainties that Americans are facing when it comes to their most familiar routines, from going to the supermarket to getting medical care when they need it,” said Dr. Andrea Klemes, MDVIP Chief Medical Officer.

“We’re seeing a perfect storm of elevated stress levels, harmful lifestyle habits and disruptions in healthcare that has the potential to lead to more severe, long-term consequences.

On the other hand, the pandemic is helping reinforce for many Americans the importance of maintaining a healthy routine and getting regular preventive care to not only mitigate their risk for COVID-19, but also to avoid other debilitating health conditions down the road.”

Possible Silver Lining
One of the positive trends emerging from the pandemic is that Americans are taking stock of their own health.

  • Seven in ten adults say the pandemic has motivated them to get healthier (69%).
  • More than half say it’s even more important now to get their body weight under control (52%), which is noteworthy given that obesity is a major risk factor for COVID-19 complications and mortality.
  • One in two say that getting an annual physical to stay on top of their health is now more important (49%).

When it comes to receiving health information about COVID-19, the survey shows Americans trust their primary care physician (91%) more than any other source.

However, only 29% have actually turned to their doctor for information, with the majority saying they rely on local news media (51%) followed by national media (44%).

For more information, visit www.mdvip.com

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