Geospatial Health Symposium 6: Healthy Aging & Coping during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Type: Virtual Paper
Theme: Geographers and COVID-19: Setting Our Direction for the Future
Sponsor Groups: Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM (PST)
Room: Virtual 8
Organizers: Amber DeJohn, Michael Widener, Jessica Finlay
Chairs: Michael Widener

Call for Submissions

We invite abstracts employing a variety of methodologies that support a better understanding of coping mechanisms, implications for individual health and health policy, and experiences of place for older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Examples of research topics include, but are not limited to:
Changes in daily behavior;
Access to essential goods and services;
Altered community patterns and resources;
Experiences in long-term care;
Structures of familial care;
Experiences with telemedicine/Information Communication Technologies;
Disparities in mobility;
Mental and physical health effects;
Secondary health effects related to the social, behavioral, and economic impacts of COVID-19
Resilience and coping

This session is sponsored by the Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group and is a part of the Geospatial Health Research Symposium.

If you are interested in participating, please submit a 250-word abstract by October 29, 2020 to the AAG Annual Meeting Portal, as well as by email (with your AAG PIN) to Amber DeJohn (, Jessica Finlay (, and Michael Widener ( Feel free to contact us with any questions.


The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has dire and immediate consequences for the health and well-being of aging populations. Older adults, especially those with comorbid health conditions, are at greater risk of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality than younger population groups (UN COVID and Aging Brief, 2020; Shahid et al., 2020; Steinman et al., 2020). Beyond physical illness, the pandemic exposes older people to myriad life challenges such as reduced access to community resources and senior centers, pressure to adopt social technologies, and stressed familial care structures. It has disrupted everyday life for many by indefinitely suspending “normal” routines and community life (Van Tillburg et al., 2020).

Yet emerging stories and research also highlight the profound psychosocial resiliencies of older adults and creative engagement in neighborhoods and communities to cope with the pandemic. There is an emerging counter-narrative in response to the bleak media and popular discourse portrayal of older adults as vulnerable, frail, and disposable in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (Lind et al., 2020 and Ayalon et al., 2020). There are opportunities for connectedness, self-reliance, purpose, and well-being in response to adversities of the pandemic.

This virtual paper session seeks to foster a discussion of the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic on how aging adults continue to engage in daily life and with their environments, how changes may have impacted mental health and wellbeing, and whether shifts in participation in health-promoting activities and community contexts has contributed to downstream health outcomes.

Ayalon, L., Chasteen, A., Diehl, M., Levy, B. R., SNeupert, S., Rothermund, K., . . . Wahl, H.-W. (2020). Aging in Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Avoiding Ageism and Fostering Intergenerational Solidarity. Journals Of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences And Social Sciences. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbaa051

Lind, M., Bluck, S., & McAdams, D. P. (2020). More Vulnerable? The Life Story Approach Highlights Older People's' Potential for Strength During the Pandemic. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbaa105

Shahid, Z., Kalayanamitra, R., McClafferty, B., Kepko, D., Ramgobin, D., Patel, R., . . . Jain, R. (2020). COVID-19 and Older Adults: What We Know. J Am Geriatr Soc, 68(5), 926-929. doi:10.1111/jgs.16472

Steinman, M. A., Perry, L., & Perissinotto, C. M. (2020). Meeting the Care Needs of Older Adults Isolated at Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.1661

UN COVID and Aging Brief. (2020). Secretary-general’s policy brief: The impact of COVID-19 on older persons. Retrieved from

van Tilburg, T. G., Steinmetz, S., Stolte, E., van der Roest, H., & de Vries, D. H. (2020). Loneliness and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic: A study among Dutch older adults. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbaa111


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Nari Kim*, University of Delaware, Lindsay Naylor, University of Delaware, Theoretical Reflections to ‘Six-foot Social Distancing’ of COVID-19 in Reforming Later-Life Care 15 11:10 AM
Presenter Amber DeJohn*, University of Toronto, Michael Widener, University of Toronto, Social and Physical Habits of Older Adults in Toronto, Ontario during the Coronavirus Pandemic 15 11:25 AM
Presenter Valorie Crooks*, , Exploring the changing risks and opportunities associated with Canadians’ participation in international retirement migration during the COVID-19 pandemic 15 11:40 AM
Presenter Jessica Finlay*, University of Michigan, Neighborhood Engagement During COVID-19: A Qualitative Study of Aging Americans 15 11:55 AM
Presenter Eric Boschmann*, University of Denver, Older adults, daily mobility, and the COVID-19 pandemic: A preliminary view of how the U.S. aging population is coping 15 12:10 PM

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