Loneliness During the Holidays

Even though we’re more connected than ever, many older adults report feeling loneliness during the pandemic, especially with the holidays looming. 

Sixty and Me conducted a Loneliness study in 2019 with participants ranging in age from 55 to 69 years old, with 75% of the respondents reporting feeling lonely. In the same survey conducted this year, that number increased to 87%, with 78% saying the pandemic has amplified their feelings of loneliness because they are unable to socialize. 

“I don’t contact people I know to do things because no one wants to go anywhere. There is a real fear of getting COVID.”

A majority of this year’s survey participants were women (98%), and most were between the ages of 60 and 69 (66%). Other key take-aways: 

  • 48% said they’ve used video calls for the first time during the pandemic
  • 88% rated their health as good or better than most of peers
  • 68% reported that exercise and going outdoors is their No. 1 way to tackle feelings of loneliness

As we reported previously, there are many virtual activities older adults can participate in to keep them cognitively engaged. Social isolation leads to emotional and physical distress among seniors, so daily engagement is encouraged. 

On a positive note, several respondents to the Sixty and Me survey have tried new things to expand their reach and help others. Some volunteered for helplines or at food pantries, while others started a new hobby or journaled. Others used the time for self reflection and enjoyed the slower pace. 

“It’s made me realize that I have been chasing too many unnecessary things. I need to slow down. I’m now more empathetic and value experiences more than before.”