New Research Has Shown That While Loneliness Tampers Off To Its Lowest Levels During Middle Age, There Is A Consistent Uptick In Older Adulthood

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

Loneliness is a feeling that can impact anyone, no matter how old they are. But, recent research has shown that its prevalence actually increases with age.

Scientists at Northwestern University have uncovered a concerning trend of loneliness throughout adulthood. Through an extensive analysis spanning various longitudinal studies conducted globally, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and Sweden, the team found a distinct “U-shaped” pattern.

The study showed that while feelings of loneliness are relatively common during young adulthood, they tend to diminish during middle age. Then, as individuals enter old age, loneliness resurges, reaching notably high levels.

These findings came after researchers delved into the lives of more than 25,000 adults, providing valuable insights into the trajectory of loneliness across the human lifespan.

“What was striking was how consistent the uptick in loneliness is in older adulthood. There’s a wealth of evidence that loneliness is related to poorer health, so we wanted to better understand who is lonely and why people are becoming lonelier as they age out of midlife so we can hopefully start finding ways to mitigate it,” explained Eileen Graham, the study’s lead author.

The team identified a distinct U-shaped trend in loneliness, peaking during early adulthood following the challenging transition from adolescence. Then, it declines to its lowest points during the middle age years – or when people are in their thirties, forties, and fifties.

But, as individuals enter their sixties, loneliness begins to resurge, gradually reaching its peak during the elderly years.

“Our study is unique because it harnessed the power of all these datasets to answer the same question: ‘How does loneliness change across the lifespan, and what factors contribute to becoming more or less lonely over time?'” Graham said.

When it comes to middle-aged adults, they may experience the lowest levels of loneliness due to the abundance of social interactions and stable relationships that are characteristic of this life stage.

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

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