The Resilience of Senior Citizens in the Era of the Pandemic: A Preliminary Study During the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Penang, Malaysia

Daya Tahan Warga Emas dalam Era Pandemik: Satu Tinjauan Awal Sewaktu Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan (PKP) di Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

  • Sheikh Dawood Sharifah Rohayah Bahagian Geografi, Pusat Pengajian Ilmu Kemanusiaan, Minden, Universiti Sains Malaysia Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Ramli Muhammad Wafi Bahagian Geografi, Pusat Pengajian Ilmu Kemanusiaan, Minden, Universiti Sains Malaysia Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Mohd Som Sofia Haminah Bahagian Geografi, Pusat Pengajian Ilmu Kemanusiaan, Minden, Universiti Sains Malaysia Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Keywords: Resilience, COVID-19 pandemic, senior citizens, Movement Control Order (MCO)


The year 2020 has witnessed the lives of a large number of populations in the world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which was declared as a public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). Malaysia has also been affected by this pandemic since the first recorded case occurred in January 2020 and the number of cases in each state has shown an increase in the following months. In this regard, the government has enforced a Movement Control Order (MCO) to break this pandemic chain. However, the implementation of MCO indirectly has a significant impact on the survival of all people, including the senior citizens, especially in terms of their resilience. Thus, this paper aims to examine the impact of MCO on the resilience of senior citizens in Penang in terms of adaptation to the situation of MCO, as well as identifying the support system that is available for them. The in-depth interview method is conducted with 10 senior citizens informants aged 60 and above. Findings indicate that strong social ties and access to activities related to nature/environment are important elements in the survival of resilience among the senior citizens during MCO. This study gives an overview and understanding to the community about the resilience of one of the vulnerable groups during the pandemic, as well as contributing ideas on interventions to stakeholders in preserving and prospering the lives of senior citizens in line with the third target of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which is ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages.


Download data is not yet available.


Abruquah, L. A., Yin, X., & Ding, Y. (2019). Old age support in urban China: The role of pension schemes, self-support ability and intergenerational assistance. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(11), 1-17.

Ali, S. (2016). Kualiti hidup pesara lelaki dan wanita Malaysia: Kajian kes di Besut, Terengganu. Geografia-Malaysian Journal of Society and Space, 12(5), 11-21.

American Psychological Association. (2014). The road to resilience. Retrieved from

Banerjee, D. (2020). The impact of Covid‐19 pandemic on elderly mental health. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 35(12), 1466-1467.

Bowling, A., & Iliffe, S. (2011). Psychological approach to successful ageing predicts future quality of life in older adults. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 9(13), 1-10.

Chen, L. K. (2020). Older adults and COVID-19 pandemic: Resilience matters. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. 89, 1-2.

Cherry, K. E., Marks, L. D., Benedetto, T., Sullivan, M. C. & Barker, A. (2013). Perceptions of longevity and successful aging in very old adults. Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging, 25(4), 288-310.

Dani, M. A. (2020, 13 April). Warga emas dan pandemik COVID-19. The Malaysian Medical Gazette. Retrieved from

Daoust, J. F. (2020). Elderly people and responses to COVID-19 in 27 countries. PloS ONE, 15(7), 1-13.

Ekkel, E. D., & de Vries, S. (2017). Nearby green space and human health: Evaluating accessibility metrics. Landscape and Urban Planning, 157, 214–220.

Fischer, F., Raiber, L., Boscher, C., & Winter, M. H. J. (2020). COVID-19 and the elderly: Who cares?. Frontiers in Public Health, 8(151), 1-3.

García-Fernández, L., Romero-Ferreiro, V., López-Roldán, P. D., Padilla, S., & Rodriguez-Jimenez, R. (2020). Mental health in elderly Spanish people in times of COVID-19 outbreak. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 1040-1045.

Gill, T. M., Robison, J. T., & Tinetti, M. E. (1997). Predictors of recovery in activities of daily living among disabled older persons living in the community. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 12(12), 757-762.

Golant, S. M. (2015). Residential normalcy and the enriched coping repertoires of successfully aging older adults. The Gerontologist, 55(1), 70-82.

Gooding, P. A., Hurst, A., Johnson, J., & Tarrier, N. (2012). Psychological resilience in young and older adults. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 27(3), 262-270.

Hildon, Z., Montgomery, S. M., Blane, D., Wiggins, R. D., & Netuveli, G. (2010). Examining resilience of quality of life in the face of health-related and psychosocial adversity at older ages: What is “right” about the way we age?. The gerontologist, 50(1), 36-47.

Jeste, D. V., Savla, G. N., Thompson, W. K., Vahia, I. V., Glorioso, D. K., Martin, A. S., Palmer, B. W., Rock, D., Golshan, S., Kraemer, H. C., & Depp, C. A. (2013). Association between older age and more successful aging: Critical role of resilience and depression. American Journal of Psychiatry, 170(2), 188-196.

Khor, V., Arunasalam, A., Azli, S., Khairul-Asri, M. G., & Fahmy, O. (2020). Experience from Malaysia during the COVID-19 movement control order. Urology, 141, 179-180.

Lamond, A. J., Depp, C., Allison, M., Langer, R., Reichstadt, J., Moore, D. J., Golshan, S., Ganiats, T. G., & Jeste, D. V. (2008). Measurement and predictors of resilience among community-dwelling older women. Journal of psychiatric research, 43(2), 148-154.

Lawton, E., Brymer, E., Clough, P., & Denovan, A. (2017). The relationship between the physical activity environment, nature relatedness, anxiety, and the psychological well-being benefits of regular exercisers. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1-11.

Leh, F. C. (2020). The geography of accessibility: Assessing the Malaysian approach to COVID-19 pandemic management. GEOGRAFI, 8(2), 66-91.

Levin, J. & Chatters, L. M. (2008). Religion, aging, and health: Historical perspectives, current trends, and future directions. Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging, 20(1-2), 153-172.

Lloyd-Sherlock, P., Ebrahim, S., Geffen, L., & McKee, M. (2020). Bearing the brunt of Covid-19: Older people in low and middle income countries. The BMJ, 368, 1-2.

Luthar, S. S., & Cicchetti, D. (2000). The construct of resilience: Implications for interventions and social policies. Development and psychopathology, 12(4), 857-885.

MacLeod, S., Musich, S., Hawkins, K., Alsgaard, K., & Wicker, E. R. (2016). The impact of resilience among older adults. Geriatric Nursing, 37(4), 266-272.

Mancini, A. D., & Bonanno, G. A. (2009). Predictors and parameters of resilience to loss: Toward an individual differences model. Journal of Personality, 77(6), 1805-1832.

Martin, A. S., Distelberg, B., Palmer, B. W., & Jeste, D. V. (2015). Development of a new multidimensional individual and interpersonal resilience measure for older adults. Aging & Mental Health, 19(1), 32-45.

Meng, H., Xu, Y., Dai, J., Zhang, Y., Liu, B., & Yang, H. (2020). Analyze the psychological impact of COVID-19 among the elderly population in China and make corresponding suggestions. Psychiatry research, 289, 1-2.

Mukhtar, S. (2020). Psychological impact of COVID-19 on older adults. Current Medical Research Practice, 10(4), 201-202.

Nadzir, M. S. M., Ooi, M. C. G., Alhasa, K. M., Bakar, M. A. A., Mohtar, A. A. A., Nor, M. F. F. M., Latif, M. T., Hamid, H. H. A., Ali, S. H. M., Ariff, N. M., Anuar, J., Ahamad, F., Azhari, A., Hanif, N. M., Subhi, M. A., Othman, M., & Nor, M. Z. M. (2020). The impact of movement control order (MCO) during pandemic COVID-19 on local air quality in an urban area of Klang valley, Malaysia. Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 20(6), 1237-1248.

Philip, J. & Cherian, V. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 on mental health of the elderly. International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health, 7(6), 2435-2436.

Plagg, B., Engl, A., Piccoliori, G., & Eisendle, K. (2020). Prolonged social isolation of the elderly during COVID-19: Between benefit and damage. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 89, 1-2.

Rantanen, T., Masaki, K., He, Q., Ross, G. W., Willcox, B. J., & White, L. (2012). Midlife muscle strength and human longevity up to age 100 years: A 44-year prospective study among a decedent cohort. Journal of the American Aging Association (AGE), 34(3), 563-570.

Rauf, S. H. A., Ah, S. H. A. B., & Fahrudin, A. (2020). Social Change PostCOVID-19 in Malaysia: The Density of Social Network. Asian Social Work Journal, 5(2), 1-5.

Resnick, B. A., & Inguito, P. L. (2011). The resilience scale: Psychometric properties and clinical applicability in older adults. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 25(1), 11-20.

Ser, H. L., Tan, L. T. H., Law, J. W. F., Letchumanan, V., Mutalib, N. S. A., & Lee, L. H. (2020). Genomic analysis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) strains isolated in Malaysia. Progress in Microbes & Molecular Biology, 3(1), 1-8.

Shen, K., & Zeng, Y. (2011). The association between resilience and survival among Chinese elderly. Demographic Research, 23(5), 105-116.

Smith, J. L., & Hollinger-Smith, L. (2015). Savoring, resilience, and psychological well-being in older adults. Aging & Mental Health, 19(3), 192-200.

Stein, M. B., Campbell‐Sills, L., & Gelernter, J. (2009). Genetic variation in 5HTTLPR is associated with emotional resilience. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 150(7), 900-906.

Stewart-Knox, B., Duffy, M. E., Bunting, B., Parr, H., de Almeida, M. D. V., & Gibney, M. (2012). Associations between obesity (BMI and waist circumference) and socio-demographic factors, physical activity, dietary habits, life events, resilience, mood, perceived stress and hopelessness in healthy older Europeans. BMC public health, 12(424), 1-12.

Van Orden, K. A., Bower, E., Lutz, J., Silva, C., Gallegos, A. M., Podgorski, C. A., Santos, E. J., Conwell, Y. (2020). Strategies to promote social connections among older adults during “social distancing” restrictions. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Retrieved from

Weimann, H., Björk, J., & Hakansson, C. (2019). Experiences of the urban green local environment as a factor for well-being among adults: An exploratory qualitative study in southern Sweden. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(14), 1-14.

World Health Organization. (2020a). Timeline of WHO’s response to COVID-19. Retrieved from

World Health Organization. (2020b). Healthy ageing and the Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from

Wu, B. (2020) Social isolation and loneliness among older adults in the context of COVID-19: A global challenge. Global Health Research and Policy, 5(27), 1-3.

Wu, G., Feder, A., Cohen, H., Kim, J. J., Calderon, S., Charney, D. S., & Mathé, A. A. (2013). Understanding resilience. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7(10), 1-15.

Ziglio, E. (2017). Strengthening resilience: A priority shared by health 2020 and the Sustainable Development Goals. World Health Organization. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe.

How to Cite
Sharifah Rohayah, S. D., Muhammad Wafi, R., & Sofia Haminah, M. S. (2020). The Resilience of Senior Citizens in the Era of the Pandemic: A Preliminary Study During the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Penang, Malaysia. GEOGRAFI, 8(2), 110-128.