How does the diverse group of seniors (aged 60+) experience the virus and the measures taken? How do they perceive the risks and how does is impact their daily lives?
Older people are more susceptible to the corona virus than other age groups in society and are therefore disproportionally affected by the crisis and its measures. The measures taken may have a large impact on their quality of life. Most prominently social distancing, largely applied in all countries may have a large negative influence on their wellbeing, as we know that social relations are of vital influence on quality of life and health at later age (Bowling et al. 2003; Holt-Lunstad et al. 2006). It is expected that the crisis will highlight structural inequalities and unevenly affect those who are already struggling and disadvantaged by society (Fiske, et al 2009). Older people with less resources (socioeconomic, relational or mental) might come even more under pressure during the crisis, both physically and mentally (Hoare, 2015; Perna et al 2012).The measures taken by governmental bodies intend to protect older people and guarantee their safety. In the Netherlands one such hotly debated measure is the closure of nursing homes for the family and other social contacts. Older people who live in the community are advised to stay at home. The measures and the debate about these measures is steered by experts who talk ‘about’ older people. This pattern is mirrored in the media. Older people themselves are not heard and their insider, ‘emic’, perspective hardly plays a role in policies and the public debate. This leads to a situation wherein many solutions are based upon assumptions about older people without consulting them. As Dineke, an older Dutch person noticed, April 19th 2020: ‘All these plans are made by younger people.’ (www.wijencorona.nl). As a result many solutions are not tuned-in to the lifeworld of older people and may feel imposed and hard to live by.Our research project intends to focus on how seniors experience the period during the Covid-19 virus and the measures taken. What are their perspectives on the crisis? How do they perceive the risks? We deliberately pay attention to structural inequalities. Answers will give insight into the perspective of seniors who are now largely invisible in both the academic and public debates. We intend to learn from this crisis and derive lessons from it to better attune measures to seniors’ needs and to explore the resilience of seniors during crises to potentially find avenues of resilience for the future (Bernard, 2006; Bonnano, 2004; Hoare, 2015). Research during a crisis is often impossible. The Covid-19-crisis offers us an unique chance to gain insight in the experiences and individual, perceived, impact of crisis situations and the role of structural inequalities during a crisis, currently largely missing in policy and academic literature (Fiske, et al 2009).
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