Older people’s mental health needs are often overlooked or dismissed as ‘part of getting older’ but poor mental health in later life is not inevitable. The problems around older people’s mental health have remained or gotten worse since the start of COVID-19 pandemic. 

In this new joint report from the Mental Health Foundation and Independent Age, we explore the impact of the pandemic on older people’s mental health across the UK. We highlight that for many, there was no happy ‘return to normal’ as restrictions eased in summer 2021. 

Drawing on interviews with people in later life, the report illustrates some of the different ways the pandemic has impacted people’s wellbeing and mental health. While many people found ways to cope and manage, others faced serious challenges and their wellbeing suffered as a result. These include bereavement, the impact of shielding for long periods, loneliness and isolation and worsening physical health and mobility. 

The report calls for dedicated support and policy responses for older people across the UK as we face a challenging and uncertain winter and beyond.