It’s the country’s old who are the foot soldier’s in the nation’s “loneliness epidemic,” which has physical consequences as well as mental.
The older Americans get, the more time they spend during the day alone – and that number increases for people who live alone, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistic data.
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It was discovered that Americans over 60 are alone for more than half of their “daily measured time,” including all waking hours except activities such as grooming.
Overall, Americans over 60 are alone about seven hours a day. Those who live alone are alone 10 hours a day.
To compare, people in their 40s and 50s spend about four hours and 45 minutes per day alone, and those under 40 spend about three and a half hours a day alone.
A 2018 Wall Street Journal article explored how Boomers are aging alone – and the side effects of doing so are leading to early mortality.
It’s not just an American problem, either – earlier this year, a two-year study by the University of Bristol and Age United Kingdom found that older British men were facing a loneliness crisis, reported Sky News.
“I have not got a family so I have lost out on that,” said one of the men interviewed. “So much has closed, so many pubs are closed, places where people met – village stores, the village pub, even banks.”
Being alone isn’t necessarily negative in and of itself, but it is a sign of social isolation, which can have bad health outcomes – nobody reminding the old to take their medications, or to help them in an emergency, for example.
People over 60 are a significant amount of the U.S. population, at 22%. One in four of that percentage live alone. Shockingly, over a third (37%) of older adults who live alone say they spend all of their measured time alone.
People tend to spend more time alone as they move from their 60s into their 70s and then 80s, which usually accounts for the loss or institutionalization of a spouse.
Older women tend to spend more time alone, as well, usually due to widowhood and the statistical probability of men dying earlier.