To Stay or not to Stay at Home? The Unintended Consequences of Public Health Advice for Older Adults in the context of Covid-19 and Urban Heat

Zofia Boni, Diotima Bertel, Viktoria Adler

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelBegutachtung

Abstract

Stay-at-home advice is one of the most widespread public health solutions to various health risks, including Covid-19 and heat stress. Authorities often direct this recommendation at adults above the age of 65, a group particularly vulnerable to multiple risks. While this advice aims to save lives, it also comes with various negative unintended consequences. Specifically, it increases older adults’ isolation and loneliness, which negatively affects their mental and physical health, as well as their wellbeing and quality of life. This article builds on the findings from two European projects that studied, respectively, Covid-19 responses and adaptation strategies to urban heat. First, we analyse the data from semi-structured interviews about Covid-19 responses and their consequences conducted with local experts in the Vienna region, Austria, in 2021-22. Second, we analyse the data from focus groups on experiencing and adapting to urban heat conducted with older adults in Warsaw, Poland, in 2021. We look at the similarities and differences in these two cases. Based on that, we demonstrate why stay-at-home advice might be problematic for older adults and how it leads to their increased loneliness and isolation when it stops being a short-term measure and becomes a prolonged experience. We show why public health advice should consider the issues of temporality, sociality and inequality when re-considering the implementation of stay-at-home advice in the future. We also demonstrate that the focus on community wellbeing, instead of thinking only in terms of individual health and responsibility, might be a way forward.
OriginalspracheEnglisch
Aufsatznummer116383
Seitenumfang8
FachzeitschriftSocial Science and Medicine
Volume348
DOIs
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 3 Apr. 2024

Research Field

  • Ehemaliges Research Field - Experience Measurement

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