Abstract Purpose In order to control the corona virus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, many countries have adopted social quarantine policies, with older adults in Wuhan suffering the longest and most severe conditions. But few studies have explored the impact of this on the mental health of older adults in Wuhan. The purpose of this paper is to examine changes in the residential status and mental health of this group when 1 year after the social isolation policies in Wuhan. Method A cross-sectional study with convenience sampling was conducted to assess the questionnaire of older adults in a total of 21 streets in 5 central and 2 distant urban districts of Wuhan. Using a self-compiled living status questionnaire, the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, the General Anxiety Disorder-7, the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version, the UCLA Loneliness Scale and the Social Support Rating Scale, our survey evaluated the living status, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress symptoms, loneliness and social support of all the participants. Results A total of 400 valid samples were obtained. One year after experiencing social isolation, older adults had not changed much from their pre-epidemic living status and mostly lived with their partners. They had satisfactory social support (33.86 ± 6.92) and low levels of depression (3.12 ± 4.30), anxiety (1.52 ± 3.19) and post-traumatic stress symptoms (21.41 ± 7.39), but there were moderate levels of loneliness (38.27 ± 9.31). Among them, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms were significantly higher (ps < 0.05) in older adults who were COVID-19 close contacts while experiencing social isolation. Conclusion One year after experiencing Wuhan’s harsh social isolation, older adults in the Wuhan community did not experience significant symptoms of depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress, but loneliness has increased and the mental health of older adults who were COVID-19 close contacts needs attention.