Lower Income, Less Educated and Democrats Report Greater Feelings of Loneliness

SAN MATEO, CA; February 17, 2016 — Nearly six in 10 senior citizens (59%) report they “never” feel lonely or isolated, according to a new report from Caring.com. Another 17% say they “rarely” feel lonely or isolated. This debunks the common perception that seniors become less social and are often isolated from family and friends as they age. In fact, only a small number of seniors (6%) report that they often have feelings of loneliness or isolation.

Interaction with family members appears to play a large role in warding off loneliness. The majority of respondents connect with their family either every day (58%) or at least once a week (24%).

“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,” Cohen added.

Surprisingly, just being around more people doesn’t make seniors less lonely. Seniors living in urban areas are about twice as likely to feel lonely often compared to those living in suburban and rural areas.

Loneliness and isolation also appear to decrease as income and education levels rise. The study found 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. Thirty percent of Democrats say they are lonely “often” or “sometimes,” more frequently than Republicans (19%) and independents (17%). Democrat respondents also didn’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. The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI).

PSRAI obtained telephone interviews with 628 adults age 65 or older living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted by landline and cell phone in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source, January 7-10 and 21-24, 2016. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.