A significant majority of seniors (59 percent) report they “never” feel lonely or isolated, according to a new report.
Caring.com discloses this finding in a study conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The results are based on telephone interviews in January with 628 adults age 65 or older living in the continental U.S.
The report shows that fewer than 1 in 5 (17 percent) of seniors say they “rarely” feel lonely or isolated. And just 6 percent of seniors report that they “often” have feelings of loneliness or isolation.
These findings, the report adds, challenge a widely held belief that seniors become less social and feel more isolated from family and friends as they age.
The survey adds that interaction with family members play a large role in suppressing feelings of loneliness. The majority of respondents connect with their family either every day (58 percent) or at least once a week (24 percent).
“Social interaction is a key component to staying both emotionally and physically healthy as we age,” said Andy Cohen, founder and CEO of Caring.com. “Staying active in communities and connecting with family on a regular basis could actually be adding years to your life.”
The report notes, however, that “being around people” doesn’t necessarily reduce feelings of isolation. Seniors living in urban areas are about twice as likely to feel lonely as those living in suburban and rural areas.
Loneliness and isolation also appear to decrease as income and education levels increase. The study finds that people making an annual income of $30,000 or less report higher instances of loneliness than more affluent seniors. Likewise, respondents with a high school education or less report feeling lonely “often” or “sometimes” at a greater rate compared to people who attended or graduated from college.
Political affiliations also appear to have an influence on loneliness. 30 percent of Democrats say they are lonely “often” or “sometimes,” more frequently compared to Republicans (19 percent) and independents (17 percent).
Democrat respondents also don’t own cats or dogs as much as Republicans or independents, which could have an impact on their higher frequency of loneliness. It is often recommended that seniors own pets to ward off loneliness and isolation.