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27-09-2021 Open Access

Maintenance of high quality of life as an indicator of resilience during COVID-19 social distancing among community-dwelling older adults in Finland

Quality of Life Research
Kaisa Koivunen, Erja Portegijs, Elina Sillanpää, Johanna Eronen, Katja Kokko, Taina Rantanen
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Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic reduced possibilities for activities of choice potentially threatening quality of life (QoL). We defined QoL resilience as maintaining high quality of life and studied whether walking speed, absence of loneliness, living arrangement, and stress-coping ability predict QoL resilience among older people.


Community-dwelling 75-, 80-, and 85-year-old persons (n = 685) were interviewed and examined in 2017–2018 and were followed up during COVID-19 social distancing in 2020. We assessed QoL using the OPQOL-brief scale and set a cut-off for ‘constant high’ based on staying in the highest baseline quartile over the follow-up and categorized all others as having ‘low/moderate’. Perceived restrictiveness of the social distancing recommendations was examined with one item and was categorized as ‘yes’ or ‘no’ restrictiveness.


Better stress-coping ability (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.14–1.28) and not being lonely (OR 2.67, 95% CI 1.48–4.63) increased the odds for constant high QoL from before to amid social distancing, and the odds did not differ according to the perceived restrictiveness of the social distancing recommendations. Higher walking speed predicted constant high QoL only among those perceiving restrictiveness (OR 1.16, 95% CI 1.07–1.27). Living arrangement did not predict constant high QoL.


During social distancing, psychosocial resources helped to maintain good QoL regardless how restrictive the social distancing recommendations were perceived to be. Better physical capacity was important for constant high QoL only among those perceiving restrictiveness presumably because it enabled replacing blocked activities with open outdoor physical activities.

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