Many older adults in the United States continue to experience COVID-19 exposure anxiety, keeping them less active and more isolated, according to new survey results.

In a quantitative study commissioned by Walgreens, surveyors queried approximately 1,000 adults aged 55 years and older. Participants were asked about their feelings on socializing after the pandemic. 

The researchers estimated that 42% of U.S. seniors are currently less socially active than before the pandemic. And 20% feel lonelier now than they did before the pandemic.

Respondents agreed that fear of becoming ill has caused them to miss activities they previously enjoyed, for example. Fully 60% said they were no longer seeing friends regularly and attending family gatherings; 36% said they miss going on vacation; 28% report that they miss going shopping or running errands; and 19% said they miss being connected to their local community.

Older Black adults have been particularly affected by these concerns, with an estimated 43% of Black seniors said they are limiting their activities for fear of infection, 16 percentage points higher than among the total population of their same-age peers.

Willingness to get out and about was also linked with vaccination status, the researchers reported. Fully 70% of respondents said they are more confident socializing when the people they are around are vaccinated against COVID-19 and other viruses such as flu, shingles and pneumonia.

The Walgreens COVID-19 Pulse Check Study was conducted between Feb. 17 and 18, 2023 and was fielded by Dynata, a survey vendor. The company is using the data to promote its Walgreens Seniors Day in which patients aged 55 and older and their caregivers are offered savings on regular-priced merchandise.

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