The University of Hong Kong has conducted a survey about the mental health of the city’s residents aged 60 plus during the COVID pandemic. As a result, 14% of the 4,921 respondents said they had displayed signs of depression, 12% had experienced anxiety, and 29% said they suffered loneliness during the fifth wave.

The report read, “About one-third of the elderly respondents suffered from at least one condition of depression, anxiety, or loneliness.”

The data is somewhat remarkable compared with the previous study in 2020 of 8,163 people, showing worsened mental health conditions. 14% and 12% of interviewees showed signs of depression and anxiety, respectively, while only 8.4% and 7.4 % were placed in the same categories in 2020.

Kwok Wai-wai, a project manager at HKU’s department of social work and social administration who co-led the study, said, “The fifth wave had more impact on the elderly, probably because at the time, lots of news was about them being infected and the rising death rate, which placed lots of pressure on them.”

Adding to that was the closing down of community services, making it harder for them to see their families. Throughout much of the fifth wave, visits were suspended, leaving senior residents isolated. The survey also found the most significant COVID-related concern among respondents was that “they would burden their families if they were infected with Covid-19.”

SCMP cited government data released on Sunday; about 87% of Covid-related deaths were among those 70 years and above. This age group also took part in 70% of all hospitalized coronavirus patients during the fifth wave.

The research aimed to tackle mental issues among the elderly and called for authorities to cease the ongoing suspension of community services and at-home healthcare throughout the pandemic and urged the city to provide more services and activities that met the physical and psychological needs of the elderly residents.

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