Nora-Gaye Banton reports

A local study by the Northern Caribbean University, NCU, has revealed a six-fold increase in severe stress levels of the nation’s elderly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The findings indicated that more than three-quarters of over 500 people aged 65 and over reported an increase in their stress levels during the pandemic.

The survey was conducted across 14 parishes during May and June this year.

The study revealed that before COVID-19, the level of severe stress experienced by the elderly population in Jamaica was a little over 3 per cent.

Lead Researcher, Paul Bourne, says this increased to over 21 per cent during the pandemic.

According to the findings, the elderly reacted to the heightened stress by becoming angry when they have to wait and blowing up easily.

Mr. Bourne is projecting that the impact of the pandemic could become much worse.

Nearly six out of ten people surveyed faced one or more challenges during the pandemic with over 32 percent experiencing financial stress and pressure.

To address the rising stress levels among the elderly population, the NCU researchers suggest focusing on a balanced diet, an exercise regimen, and adequate rest.

Mr. Bourne says there’s an urgent need for the Government to introduce measures to mitigate this threat to the health of this vulnerable group.

The research is titled “An Inquiry into the Stress levels of Elderly Jamaicans before and during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.”

It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4-point-5 per cent.