I am psychologist interested in positive aging . My work aims to design and evaluate psychosocial interventions based on mind-body medicine such as yoga and mindfulness and providing support for developing cognitive and physical function of elderly people with cognitive impairment that can be incorporated into Chilean health services and develop proof about how to support a successful aging.
I work as an assistant Professor at Faculty of Health and Social Science, Universidad de Las Americas, as well as researcher at Department of Psychiatry and mental health, Hospital Clínico- Universidad de Chile, Also I have been a postdoc researcher at the Millennium Institute for Research on Depression and Personality (Midap) since September 20, 2017. As of March 2019, I will continue to be linked to the Midap institute as a researcher, but with funding that I obtained from a CONICYT Grant (Fondecyt Postdoctorado nº: 3190275) to continue developing my research on “Adaptation, implementation and evaluation of the effectiveness of yoga based mindfulness intervention (YBM) versus Psycho-educational program for older people with MCI”
A qualitative study of coping strategies among socially isolated older adults with mild cognitive impairment during the COVID-19 pandemic
Maryam Farhang, Universidad de Las Américas, Chile.
The COVID-19 pandemic imposed a psychological burden on elderly and particularly individuals with cognitive impairment and dementia. Few studies have investigated the quarantine experiences of older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The objective of this study was to explore the experiences and feelings of older adults with MCI during the COVID-19 outbreak in Chile and to know what strategies they used to overcome social isolation.
A qualitative design was used. Ten participants with a diagnosis of MCI took part in this study. All interviews were recorded and coded using thematic analysis.
The thematic analysis identified three themes related to the quarantine experience of older adults with MCI diagnosis: (1) Effects of social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic (2) Believes, feelings and behaviors about the SARS-CoV-2 virus (3) Coping with social isolation/response to difficulties during the pandemic.
It was found that older adults with MCI have been mainly psychologically and socially affected by social distancing and isolation, particularly individuals who were alone during COVID-19 outbreak. The only physical dimension negatively affected was the level of activity. Social isolation led to a significant number of negative emotions such as anger, fear of contracting the virus or possibility of contagion for their families, worries and sadness as well as emotional loneliness. It is noteworthy that the majority of participants have used several coping strategies during this challenging time.
Since social isolation and a sedentary life have been associated with poorer cognition and functionality in people with MCI, a rational plan to both prevent the progression of cognitive decline and to increase social contact, is essential. Special attention must be drawn to maintaining people physically active at home and keeping their daily routine (within the possibilities) and also to ensure social connectedness through technology. Implementation of these measures could potentially reduce negative emotions during the pandemic.