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

Typically, middle-aged individuals are married, have families, maintain regular employment, participate in their children’s activities, and engage with multiple social circles intertwined through their children’s school or workplace connections.

On the other hand, young adulthood – which starts right after turning 18 – often represents a period characterized by shifting friendship circles, new jobs, seeking romantic relationships, and experiencing a general sense of social upheaval as people transition into college or the professional realm.

Meanwhile, the elderly confront various factors that contribute to loneliness. These may include the loss of a spouse, having “empty nests” after children leave home, grieving the loss of friends, and the possible onset of disability or illness.

But, even though there were disparities across age groups, certain shared factors were found to consistently predict loneliness irrespective of age. These included social isolation, being divorced, widowed, or single, earning a lower income and having less education, dealing with disabilities or physical impairments, struggling with mental health disorders, and certain unhealthy habits, such as smoking.

As for why this study is significant: its findings have profound implications. Severe and persistent loneliness constitutes a grave public health concern. It is even linked to an elevated risk of premature mortality comparable to that of daily cigarette smoking, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.

So, Graham emphasized how the study’s results highlight the necessity for tailored interventions aimed at mitigating the social inequalities that contribute to loneliness across the adult lifespan. Additionally, the researchers expressed a desire for medical professionals to incorporate assessments of loneliness into routine wellness check-ups in the future.

Finally, given that the datasets analyzed for this study predate the COVID-19 pandemic, the research team speculates that present levels of loneliness could be even more pronounced due to the extended periods of isolation experienced by people around the globe.

To read the study’s complete findings, which have since been published in Psychological Science, visit the link here.

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