Survey: Young adults more lonely than elderly

Published: May. 1, 2018 at 9:06 AM CDT
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Young people are significantly more likely than the elderly to be lonely and in poor health, according to a new survey conducted by health insurer Cigna.

The survey finds loneliness is widespread in the U.S. with nearly half of respondents reporting feeling alone or left out at least some of the time.

The evaluation of loneliness was measured by a score of 43 or higher on the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a 20-item questionnaire developed to assess subjective feelings of loneliness, as well as social isolation.

The survey of more than 20,000 U.S. adults ages 18 years and older revealed:

• Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).

• One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.

• Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent).

• One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18 percent).

• Americans who live with others are less likely to be lonely (average loneliness score of 43.5) compared to those who live alone (46.4). However, this does not apply to single parents/guardians (average loneliness score of 48.2) – even though they live with children, they are more likely to be lonely.

• Only around half of Americans (53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.

• Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations.

• Social media use alone is not a predictor of loneliness; respondents defined as very heavy users of social media have a loneliness score (43.5) that is not markedly different from the score of those who never use social media (41.7).