Background: With the increasing age of the global population, key components of healthy ageing including community, physical, and social participation continue to gain traction. However, management of the COVID-19 pandemic aimed to protect older adults and reduce the spread of the virus, this restricted community participation and reduced the opportunities for social interaction.
Methods: This mixed methods study investigates community dwelling older adults’ community participation; physical activity and social interaction prior to, during, and following the COVID-19 lockdown in Adelaide, Australia. Twenty-six community dwelling older adults were monitored over three time-points between November 2018 and October 2020, with Global Positioning Systems, accelerometry and self-reported diaries. In addition, nineteen participants completed semi-structured interviews.
Results: Community participation varied across the three time points, with significant reduction in the number of trips taken out-of-home (p = 0.021), social interactions (p = 0.001) and sleep quality (p = 0.008) during restrictions. Five themes were identified to explain personal experiences of community participation during restrictions: (1) Reframing of meaning, (2) Redefining to maintain activities, (3) Revision of risk, (4) Reflection and renewal and (5) Future planning.
Conclusion: During COVID-19 the physical and social activities of community dwelling older adults changed. Services that support older adults to adapt their activities , considering their capacities and preferences, to facilitate community participation are required.
- Community participation
- Older adults
- Physical activity
- Social interactions