Gustavsson J, Beckman L
Int J Environ Res Public Health 17 (15) - [2020-07-26; online 2020-07-26]
Background (1): In the wake of COVID-19, elderly people have been labelled a risk group. As the pandemic is a new crisis in Sweden, we have no knowledge on how this group perceives the information and recommendations being provided. Complying with these recommendations entails physical distancing and, for some, isolation at home. Methods (2): From 16 April to 15 May 2020, we conducted an online survey targeting people aged 70 and older in Sweden (n = 1854). Results (3): A vast majority of the participants find the information and recommendations clear and reliable. Half of the participants report staying at home all the time, and up to half report decreased mental health in terms of, e.g., feeling depressed, having sleeping problems and that isolation makes them feel bad. However, elderly people are not a homogenous group, and there are gender and demographic differences. (4) Conclusion: At this point, we do not know the full extent of the ongoing pandemic, either in terms of duration or in terms of losses. The Swedish model for action on COVID-19 has not included a lock down. However, elderly people seem to comply with recommendations and practice social distancing to a high degree. This might lead to decreased mental health and long-term effects.