Experiences of Older Adults During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States: An Initial Exploration of Nationally Representative Data at the Intersection of Gender and Race

May 1, 2022


  • Takashi Yamashita
  • Wonmai Punksungka
  • Samuel Van Vleet
  • Abigail Helsinger
  • Phyllis Cummins

Little is known about the overall experiences and feelings of diverse older populations during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. To provide the baseline information for future research and policy, this study analyzed the 2020 Health and Retirement Study COVID-19 project data (n = 1782). More than 70% of older adults reported the following activities: watching TV (98%), reading (90%), using a computer and the internet (83%), gardening (82%), walking (75%), baking and cooking (73%), and praying (73%). Volunteering and attending community groups, which are known to benefit well-being, were unpopular (less than 8%). During the pandemic, older adults were generally satisfied with their lives, but more than half of them were concerned about their own health, family’s health, and future prospects. Our study also showed the differences in the experiences and feelings by gender and race as well as the intersection of gender and race in the United States.

Journal of Applied Gerontology, doi: 10.1177/07334648211048258

Publication available online, subscription may be required.


  • Demographics
  • Education
  • Health/Physical Activity
  • Religion/Spirituality