School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)


Margaret Gopaul


Older Adults, African Americans, Loneliness, Social Isolation, Health, Well-Being




As the number of older and aging adults continues to grow in the United States, it is important to understand the process of aging and the obstacles associated with growing in age. Two social factors linked with aging are social isolation and loneliness, especially during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Since COVID-19, social isolation and loneliness have been of greater focus due to regulations. This qualitative research study analyzed the impacts of social isolation and loneliness on older African American adults’ overall health by using semi-structured interviews to explore their lived experiences. This study focused on the associations between social isolation, loneliness, and reported health-related issues in older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was found that older African American adults’ who reported social isolation, also reported poorer perceived overall health and health practices. Stress and anxiety during COVID-19 were found to be consistently reported by all participants. The use of technology was found to be a buffer to loneliness, as all participants engaging in social connectedness, whether or in-person or virtually, report having valuable relationships. This study adds to existing research related to the lived experiences of older African Americans, during the COVID-19 pandemic. By understanding the significance of social comradeship and connectedness, individuals are anticipated to be more likely to make deliberate decisions and intentional strides to avoid social isolation. By identifying social isolation in older adults, interventions can be implemented by organizations such as medical offices and churches to reduce and/or eliminate social isolation by encouraging older adults to engage in social activities virtually or in person. Local and federal policymakers could also be influenced to create programs that allow older adults the capability to easily and affordably access or retain technological devices.

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