Beatriz Fernández: “Older people have the capacity to adapt and cope with difficult situations”

Ilustración que muestra a una mujer mayor escribiendo sobre un papel en un escritorio, al interior de una habitación durante la noche.
In an interview with The Clinic, our research associate María Beatriz Fernández referred to the results of the study she collaborated in, on the Quality of Life of Chilean Elderly People during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Illustration: The Clinic. Adapted by Gabriela Campillo. Read the full article published by The Clinic here.

52% of elderly people in Chile claim to have symptoms of depression or anxiety, according to the study on Quality of Life of Chilean Elderly People during the COVID-19 Pandemic, carried out by the UC Institute of Sociology, the Center for the Study of Old Age and Aging (CEVE UC), the UC School of Nursing, and the USACH Institute for Advanced Studies (IDEA).

The data show a progression in depressive and anxious symptoms among elderly people.

From 40% being affected by them in 2019 to 52% in the fall of 2021. In addition, the measurement shows a sustained increase in feelings of loneliness, from 42% to 53%, an increase that also occurred among those who live with someone else.

The research also showed an increase in the social image of vulnerability with regard to elderly people. Concerning the same, the report revealed that 80% of older adults stated that they felt that “Chilean society considers them to be a burden”.

Strength and resilience in older people

Another aspect analyzed by the integrated study was strength in elderly people. The results indicate that during the pandemic there was an increase of more than 20 percentage points in finding creative ways to cope with difficult situations, reaction control, the ability to learn, and the implementation of strategies to overcome losses.

“We were very surprised by the exponential increase in resilience,” says MICARE Research Associate Maria Beatriz Fernandez, who was part of the study as a UC Sociology academic.

“You’d think that elderly people would be worse off, but that’s ambivalent. On the one hand, they are worse off, but on the other hand, resilience has increased considerably. International studies show that the worst off are the young. Indeed, older people have a capacity for adaptability, for coping with difficult situations,” says Beatriz Fernández.