As we reach the one year mark of COVID-19 lockdowns, and as vaccine rollout ramps up, many are considering how life will be different post-pandemic. New research from Home Instead, Inc.1 confirms that Canadian seniors – the demographic hardest-hit by the pandemic – are re-evaluating what’s important as they age. 

Approximately two-thirds (69 per cent) of Canadian seniors surveyed say the pandemic has made them more committed to staying in their homes as they get older, and 68 per cent say the pandemic has made them apprehensive about living in a long-term care home. The Coronavirus’ impact on the desire to age at home is even more prevalent in Canada than among U.S. seniors (69 per cent in Canada vs. 57 per cent in the U.S.), as are pandemic-induced concerns about long-term care homes (68 per cent in Canada vs. 56 per cent in the U.S.).

“The pandemic has been absolutely devastating for our senior populations, but if there’s a silver lining, it’s that we’ve been given an opportunity to reimagine how we care for seniors in the future,” said Dr. Lakelyn Hogan, PhD, gerontologist and caregiver advocate for Home Instead. “As we rebuild, it’s clear we need to work harder to provide safe, viable opportunities for seniors to age how they wish to age – where ever they call home.”

According to Home Instead’s research, the pandemic hasn’t just changed how seniors plan to age, it’s changed how they connect to the world around them. More than half (52 per cent) of Canadian seniors are more comfortable using technology since the start of the pandemic, and 35 per cent are more comfortable using technology to help with their care at home moving forward. This comfort with technology is critical for ensuring families and care providers can design care plans that enable a senior to age safely in the place they call home.

Technology is also critical to help ensure seniors stay connected to their loved ones. Just under half (46 per cent) of Canadian seniors are using video calling more or for the first time since the start of the pandemic, and of those using communications technology more frequently, 40 per cent are reporting deeper connections with their loved ones and 72 per cent of seniors say they’ll continue to use technology to communicate after the pandemic is over.

“Isolation and loneliness are serious threats to seniors’ mental and physical wellbeing, and will be  long after the pandemic has ended.” said Hogan. “Connecting with your senior loved ones regularly – whether virtually or in person – and spotting signs of loneliness early can increase the likelihood that a senior can continue to age safely at home longer.”

Despite the challenges of the last year, the majority of Canadian seniors remain hopeful for the next 12 months (62 per cent).