Research shows that older people are at greater risk of COVID-19 infection. A recent study also finds that older men worry less about catching the disease or dying from it than other populations.
Georgia State University researchers used an online questionnaire that assessed COVID-19 behavior changes and perceptions. They found older men reported being less concerned about coronavirus than women their age or younger people.
The results, published in The Journals of Gerontology, are counterintuitive to experts, who note that the men’s age range puts them at elevated risk of getting COVID-19.
The study included about 300 participants, who were split into two groups: those between the ages of 18 and 35 and those who were 65 to 81 years old. Both groups were asked about their perceptions of the severity of COVID-19, including whether they thought the pandemic response was an overreaction and whether the risk was similar to the flu.
The participants also answered questions about how worried they were about catching the virus, perceptions about hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, the economic effects of the pandemic, and whether or not they were worried about stores running out of medicine and food.
Compared with all participants, older men reported the fewest number of behavioral changes. They were less likely to buy extra food, refrain from touching their faces or wear a mask.
Worrying generally eases with age, but in this case, it could have dire consequences. The researchers suggest health care providers try to get their patients to act their age and take the risks seriously.