Abstract: (Withdrawn) Experiences with Social Connectedness and Well-Being Among Older Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Examining Differential Impact Among Latinx and Non-Hispanic White Populations (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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371P (Withdrawn) Experiences with Social Connectedness and Well-Being Among Older Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Examining Differential Impact Among Latinx and Non-Hispanic White Populations

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Marissa Hansen, PhD, Associate Professor, California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
Background and Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic has grossly over impacted the lives of older Latinx populations who already face disparities in accessing and engaging in care for complex health and mental health comorbidities. Specific consequences of such experiences are exacerbated for Latinx older adults compared to non-Hispanic Whites (NHW) given lower rates of accessing treatment, increased physical health and functional impairment, and higher rates of difficulties managing economic and social challenges. Typical positive experiences with informal and formal support networks became fractured due to COVID-19 imposed isolation practices with little available to meet resulting gaps in care. Limited research from mental health and emergency preparedness literature is available on understanding dimensions of social connectedness and mental distress in how older adult populations are impacted by public health emergencies like that of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, understanding how Latinx older adults uniquely experienced the pandemic will inform recovery approaches with targeted intervention and outreach strategies to meet urgent community needs of vulnerable aging populations. The study aim is to identify risk factors associated with the sociodemographic, social connectedness, and self-reported well-being among Latinx and Non-Hispanic White (NHW) older adults during the 2020-2021 period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: Data from round 4 of The National Health and Aging Trends study, a nationally representative longitudinal study of Medicare beneficiaries, individuals 65-years and older living in the United States, was used to examine experiences of Latinx (n= 235) and NHW’s (n=3098) who participated in the study (N= 3333). Bivariate analysis was conducted to examine initial relationships of variables. Direct effects of race/ethnicity on the relationship between COVID-19 related experiences with social isolation, mental health stressors, and financial hardship were examined using stepwise logistic regression. By majority the sample identified as female (59.4%) and between the age of 75-79 years of age (25.7%), with a small portion using Spanish as the language of the interview (n=1.3%). Study provided sample weights were used in the analysis to manage the differential sample distribution.

Results: Analysis revealed increased risk for Latinx older adults around reported pandemic related financial strain (OR=-1.55, 95% CI=0.801, 0.916), experiencing mental health stress in the form of reoccurring thoughts (OR=1.57, 95% CI =1.29, 1.91) and feeling depressed (OR= 1.42, 95% CI=1.025, 1.985) compared to NHW’s. NHW’s reported at a higher risk for reporting avoidant thoughts (OR=0.760, 95% CI=0.617, 0.935) and broad experiences with loneliness (OR=0.526, 95% CI =0.341, 0.812) around pandemic stress. No direct effects were found with specific dimensions of social relationships or demographics.

Conclusion & Implications: Results suggest the need to emphasize resources and understanding symptom profiles of distress in the treatment experience to help manage the differential presentation of stress resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic for older adults. Latinx older adults presented with a more multi-faceted presentation of pandemic related stress impacting capacity to meet economic and functional wellbeing. Promoting understanding of the impact on functioning can better support approaches for vulnerable older adults in screening for care and facilitation of resources as recovery from the pandemic continues.