Older Men Worry Less About COVID-19

As the eventful month of May winds down, June offers hope for a little more freedom of movement and social interaction but it’s still not time to drop all safety measures.  Although researchers have found that death rates from COVID-19 are significantly higher in men than women, older men appear to worry less about contracting coronavirus than women their age or younger people. 

June is Men’s Health Month and even with greater awareness about health issues concerning men, according to a Georgia State University study, older men may be putting themselves at greater risk for contracting COVID-19 because they worry less and are less motivated to stay vigilant about taking protective action to prevent infection.  

In some ways, older adults are at an advantage to their younger counterparts during difficult times like the pandemic. They have lived through more and are more likely to have a “this too shall pass” perspective.  But less worry over the virus could also translate into a more relaxed approach to social distancing, wearing face masks or frequently washing hands.  In general, older men may not be as motivated to protect their overall health and well-being with a nutritious diet, regular exercise and preventative healthcare.

The Georgia study included 146 younger adults and 156 older adults who were between 18 and 35 or 65 and 81.  Participants took part in a questionnaire that assessed behavioral changes that could reduce the risk for COVID-19 infection including washing hands more, wearing a mask, avoiding socializing, staying out of crowded places, purchasing extra medication or food or practicing a complete quarantine. Compared with all other participants, older men were less worried and reported adopting the fewest behavior changes. 

If you have an older man in your life who may not be following pandemic guidelines, it can be frustrating.  But with a little nudge and information from reliable and trustworthy news sources, older men may come around.  For health information, The World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide accurate and timely updates.

Learn more about how to evaluate media sources by following this link to the Cornell University Library.