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Trinity to study impact of Covid-19 on over 50s

Original article featured in RTE News online. The link to the full article is here

Researchers at the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), Trinity College Dublin are analysing how the coronavirus outbreak, and subsequent measures to "flatten the curve", have impacted adults aged gover 50 in Ireland.

Over 6,000 TILDA participants will participate in the project to detail how their health, activities, social lives, mood, quality of life, psychological state and expectations have been altered by the pandemic.

Alongside this, a second TILDA Covid-19 project will gather biological samples to establish who has been infected by the virus and determine the risk factors and consequences for developing Covid-19 in older adults in Ireland.

Both studies combined aim to help and support health systems and policymakers to strengthen and improve the national response to Covid-19 in the longer term.

An analysis of confirmed deaths by the Central Statistics Office shows that Covid-19 has had the greatest impact on people aged 65 or over. This age group accounted for almost 92% of confirmed deaths between 11 March and 15 May.

People aged 70 and over were directed to stay indoors, curtail social visits from friends and family, and halt outdoor exercise, activities that shape everyday routine and quality of life.

The Self-Completion Questionnaire will be delivered to a nationally representative sample of over 6,000 current participants in the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing across Ireland.

The questionnaire will collect information on the experience of older adults who contracted Covid-19 as well as those who have not, but who have been affected by the pandemic and public health measures.

Aside from the effects of the pandemic on physical, psychological, and cognitive health, researchers will gather data on unmet care needs; use of sources of information about the pandemic; any experience of ageism and the impact of caring for family members and friends.

Dr Mark Ward, TILDA Senior Researcher, who led the design of the SCQ, said:

“The world is living through a unique time in history as we grapple with the fallout of Covid-19 across the globe. The outbreak of this disease has affected every aspect of our lives and has particularly affected older people.”

“This research provides a unique opportunity for older people living in Ireland to document their experience so that we can learn how to improve public health responses in the future.”