WI22-13: Household Composition, Resource Use, and the Resilience of Older Adults Aging in Community During COVID-19

Researchers

Abstract

This research frames the pandemic period as a stress-test to detect how older adult financial, housing, and health resilience is associated with differences in household composition. Household composition, described as living alone, with a partner, or with family or unrelated coresidents, could impact resilience through multiple pathways. It could increase economic stability through diversification and multiplication of income or through public benefit qualification. Increased access to informal care and support or exposure to health risks and caregiver strain could also impact resilience. Using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), including the HRS COVID-19 module, researchers develop a profile of financial resources, public benefits utilization, informal supports use, and professional services utilization to assess pandemic-related changes. The analysis explores differences by race and ethnicity, income level, and geography. Older adult resilience is demonstrated by stability of both finances and long-term services and supports (LTSS) as well as fewer pandemic-specific hardships such as difficulty obtaining food or medicine. The relationship between household composition and resilience is highly salient as more older adults are expected to live alone and in multigenerational households in coming years. The impact of multigenerational living was especially complex during COVID-19, as these arrangements may have protected the mental health and social wellbeing of older adults while exposing them to the disruptions to household income and caregiving predominantly experienced by younger families.

Project Year

2022