Older Chinese migrants in coronavirus pandemic: Exploring risk and protective factors to increased loneliness.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Older migrants may be one of the most vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic, yet the degree of impact remains largely unknown. This study explores (1) the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic for older Chinese migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands in terms of increased loneliness and its risk factors (reduced in-person contact, decreased social participation, feelings of existential threat) and protective factors (increased non-in-person contact, more individual activities), and (2) which risk and protective factors have contributed to the incidence and prevention of higher loneliness levels. Using quantitative data of a survey among 98 Chinese migrants aged 50 years and older in Belgium (n = 84) and the Netherlands (n = 14), the findings first indicate that the coronavirus pandemic has a significant impact on older Chinese migrants’ lives. One in five experienced more loneliness. Second, reduced social participation (measured as less frequent participation in outdoor group activities) and financial insecurity (measured as experiencing financial difficulties) lead to higher than pre-pandemic loneliness levels. Problem-focused coping strategies (measured as increased non-in-person contact, via telephone or social media) and emotion-focused coping (measured as finding distraction through increased participation in individual activities) were not found to protect against increased loneliness in the pandemic. Two practical implications for loneliness interventions for older Chinese migrants are put forward. Organizing COVID-19-safe social participation activities and paying more attention to older Chinese migrants’ financial situation can be beneficial when addressing higher levels of loneliness due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-215
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Volume18
Issue number2
Early online date2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

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