Year 2021
September 2021


Abstract Title
Age advantages in mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and the positive effects of adaptability

C.C.YU1, N.X. XIANG1, J.A. LOW2 


Geriatric Education and Research Institute1, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital2 

Background & Hypothesis

The COVID-19 crisis has brought about disruptions to the daily lives of adults and may have long-standing mental health effects for adults who are not adaptive. Although there is a body of research to indicate that age is associated with better emotional well-being, it is unclear whether such age advantages remain in the context of the COVID-19 whereby adults have to continue to adapt to disruptions giving the evolving nature of the pandemic. This study examined differences in mental health of younger and older adults during the circuit breaker period in Singapore and explored the moderating effects of adaptability.



In October and November 2020, a door-to-door survey was administered to 602 Singaporean younger (n = 302) and older (n = 300) adults aged 21-89 years. All participants self-reported their depression, anxiety, stress (DAS), concerns, psycho-social adaptability, ability to perform essential activities, digital media usage, and social support during the circuit breaker period.


Age was associated with better mental health with significantly lower DAS scores. At all levels of age, those with low adaptability reported higher levels of stress and depression compared to those with high adaptability and the effect was stronger for younger adults. With high adaptability, age differences in the experience of stress and depression were attenuated.

Discussion & Conclusion

Findings support previous research about age and emotion during the pandemic by demonstrating that older adult’s mental health was less adversely impacted. Importantly, this study showed that adaptability is important, and the consequence of low adaptability was stronger for younger adults.