top of page

A B S T R A C T

srhfghfgfhgh_edited.png

JOURNEY OF FILIPINO OLDER PERSONS TOWARDS THE NEW NORMAL IN TIMES OF COVID-19: A MIXED-METHOD STUDY

Background

      More than 10 million Filipino senior citizens are at greater risk of requiring hospitalization or dying from Covid19.  Based on the 2015 Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there are 7.55 million Filipino Senior Citizens and it was projected to increase to more than 10 million in 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021) senior citizens are at greater risk of requiring hospitalization or dying if diagnosed with COVID-19.  Covid19 pandemic aggravates the social inequity and inequality experienced by senior citizens especially those living in poor communities with limited access to health and social welfare services. 

      

      Covid19 pandemic remains to be the main challenges faced by Filipino senior citizens and their families for more than a year now.  Safety protocol requires senior citizens to stay at home and public gatherings were suspended which significantly affects their social interaction.  There is a slow face of mass inoculation program and apprehension among senior citizens to be vaccinated given the limited choices of vaccines and their efficacy.  These challenges were aggravated by communicable diseases like tuberculosis which still exist in the Philippines and non-communicable disease like dementia is one of the emerging challenges.  Senior citizens are also the most disadvantaged in a pandemic given its significant effect on the socioeconomic situation and how senior citizens may cope up in the new normal.

      The journey of Filipino senior citizens in the new normal is significantly affected by multidimensional factors like economic decline, limited access to basic needs, reduction in social interaction and support, decrease in wellbeing, and mental health concerns like depression and anxiety attributed to Covid19. This study has explored the multidimensional factors that contribute to the journey of Filipino senior citizens in the new normal.  

Philippine Situation

      Every country, rich or poor, industrial or developing, has an ageing population that is growing faster than other sectors of the global population (United Nations Population Fund, 2011). In the Philippines, senior citizens are defined based on age or those who have reached 60 years old and above.  Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority 2015 survey, 7.5 million Filipino older persons were accounting for 7.5 percent of the total population.  The majority of 99.8% of Filipino senior citizens are living in the community and 10.5% are oldest-old or more than 780,000 are 80 years old and above which is mostly at great risk from Covid19.

 

      Most of the Filipino older persons live in Region 4A, Region 3, National Capital Region, Region 6, and Region 7 (PSA, 2021).  Among the total senior citizens, there was 58.8% female while 44.2% male which is 79 males for every 100 females (PSA, 2015).  Filipino senior citizens are mostly working in agriculture, forestry, and fishery. According to the 2014 Philippine Health Statistics, heart disease, hypertension, and cardiac arrest remain the top causes of death among people aged 60 and above.  At present, morbidity and mortality rate among older persons is attributed to Covid-19 and most especially with comorbidity conditions.

      Poverty in old age followed by Covid19 as well as communicable and non-communicable diseases are the most pressing challenges.  Given the limited government funding for health and welfare services for older Filipino persons, Filipino senior citizens are the most at risk and vulnerable from physical and mental health conditions.  Covid-19 pandemic contributes to further isolation and hardship.

      In addressing these challenges, the Philippines enacted policies as early as 1992 to guide the implementation of social welfare programs for older persons.  At present, the Philippine Government has implemented a Social Amelioration Program to provide cash transfers to older persons in times of Covid-19 and it complements the existing social pension for indigent older persons.

 

      The Department of Social Welfare and Development is mandated to implement social pensions for indigent older persons and Php19.28 billion has been allocated for about three million indigent older persons who receive a monthly stipend (DSWD, 2018).  Senior citizens are next in the priority lane after medical personnel gets the Covid19 vaccination.

 

      At present, there were more than 10, 000 Covid19 confirmed cases (DOH, 2021).  Among the confirmed cases, senior citizens will be more at risk to be hospitalized and die from Covid19 given their age and comorbid conditions. 

Research Problem

      Covid19 pandemic does not discriminate and it affects both rich and poor senior citizens.  This pandemic has worsened the condition of poor senior citizens given the social inequities and inequalities.  Senior citizens are most at risk of being hospitalized and suffered death due to Covid19.  This pandemic affects the mental health of senior citizens aside from its effect on their physical health.  Poor senior citizens will have limited access to medical and social welfare services given their limited resources to support their basic needs and medical services.  Covid19 has further highlighted the vulnerabilities of senior citizens given the lack of universal social pension and comprehensive social protection as well as social welfare programs to support them to successfully adapt to the new normal. 

      This study is the first research to explore the journey of Filipino senior citizens in times of the Covid19 pandemic.  There is no nationwide research on exploring the sociocultural factors that contribute to adapting to the new normal among senior citizens.  There is a need to explore the situation of senior citizens living in the Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao in times of pandemic and on how they are coping given the challenges.  Also, there is no comprehensive study on how Filipino senior citizens contribute to their family and community in times of pandemic as well as how their family and community, as well as government, provides support for Filipino senior citizens.

      There is a need to assess the level of wellbeing, social interaction, and support and depression and anxiety experienced by Filipino senior citizens attributed to the Covid19 pandemic.  This will address the gaps in government policies and programs in supporting senior citizens to successfully adapt to the new normal.  Given the increasing demographics of senior citizens, there is a need to develop a longitudinal study to know the impact of existing programs and contribute new knowledge in addressing the needs of senior citizens in the new normal.  

Methodology

      Mixed-Method is utilized in this study.  Thematic analysis was used in analyzing the data from the KOII.  Nvivo 12 PLUS was used in data management, data analysis, and data visualization.  Piktochart was used in data visualization and in developing social media posters.

      For the qualitative data, this study will explore the following themes namely: Activities of Daily Living during the new normal, lay perspectives about the signs and symptoms, and experiences on depression and anxiety during the new normal, family support to senior citizens, and support of senior citizens to their family and community, how senior citizens adapt to new normal,  worries of senior citizens in the present and future, and advice/recommendations to fellow senior citizens, community and government, and lastly, senior citizens perspectives on vaccination. 

      For the quantitative data, this study will present the descriptive analysis of the following variables:

                Total Respondents per cluster (NCR, Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, & KII)

                Sex (per location and total)

                Age (Per category)

                Marital Status

                Educational Attainment

                With Pension

                Living Arrangements

      The following assessment tool will be explored in this study:

                World Health Organization 5-Wellbeing Index

                Duke Depression and Anxiety Scale

                Duke Social Interaction and Support DSSI 11-item

Sampling

      Given the safety protocols, non-probability or availability sampling were used in choosing the respondents.

      The sampling size is divided into the following areas:

                70- Metro Manila

                70- Luzon (Bulacan and Olongapo/Zambales)

                70- Visayas (Bohol)

                70- Mindanao (Davao and General Santos City)

                70- KII (Professionals, Experts, and Notable Senior Citizens)

Research Objective

      This study has explored the journey of Filipino senior citizens in the new normal in times of the Covid19 pandemic.

                Explore the level of wellbeing, depression, and anxiety, and social interaction and social support                                 utilizing assessment tools with high validity and reliability; and

                Explore the perspective of the older persons in the delivery of government programs and the                                 sociocultural factors as well as the local practices that assists them in adapting to the new                                 normal; and 

                Lastly, this study will explore the perspective of the respondents about the Covid19 vaccination.

Significance of this Study

      This study contributes to understanding the journey of Filipino Senior citizens during the new normal.   This study serves as a platform to enable senior citizens to voice their recommendations of government policies and programs to support them in times of Covid-19.  This study contributes to understanding the level of wellbeing, depression, and anxiety, and social support and interaction experienced by the senior citizens in the new normal.  This study will recommend intervention in addressing anxiety and depression among senior citizens during the Covid19 pandemic.  More so, this study explores the good local practices being implemented to support older persons in addressing the challenges in the new normal. 

      Senior citizens and their family as well as the community may benefit from the findings of this study and better prepare themselves to successfully adapt to the new normal.  This study identifies the most vulnerable senior citizens who are experiencing depression and a significant decrease in their wellbeing using survey-questionnaire.  Also, the findings identify the multidimensional factors that may hinder or facilitate their successful adaptation to the new normal.  

This study will contribute to the enhancement of the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and National Commission for Senior Citizens programs for senior citizens in the new normal based on rigorous research.  This study will also contribute to promoting elderly friends, family, and communities in the new normal.  The findings of this study will contribute to the development of Geriatric social work and to allied professionals in the provision of services for older persons in times of Covid-19.  Social workers need to be at the forefront in ensuring that social welfare policy and programs for older persons are in place and that they reflect the diverse socio-cultural background of each country (International Federation of Social Workers, 2009).

As part of the research outputs, this study will develop a website and social media to inform the public of the research findings.  The research website www.successfulageingph.com  will be the official repository of research data/findings, important information, and will feature inspirational stories of senior citizens in the new normal. The social media of this study will provide key research findings for the public and will serve as a platform for Filipino senior citizens to interact.   Filipino Senior Citizens’ website and social media pages will serve as a platform to advocate equal opportunities for every Filipino senior citizen to age successfully in the new normal and for enactment or enhancement of policies and programs in the new normal.   

This study supports the culture of research to inform the development of evidence-based social work knowledge and practice and influence health and social welfare policy and programs for senior citizens in-times of Covid-19  Therefore, exploring the journey of Filipino older persons in-times of Covid-19 will guide government, non-government organizations, and their community/family in the enhancement of policy and program to effectively and efficiently assist them in adapting to the new normal.  Lastly, the findings of this study may be utilized by the Philippine Government and non-governmental organizations to serve as a basis for developing evidence-based policy and program for practice with older persons in the new normal.

   

Mind Map

mind map.jpg

Concept Map

concept.jpg
bottom of page