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.