The epidemic of loneliness is expected to rise in the next decade.
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We’ve heard the post-Millennial generation referred to as the “lonely generation,” but right now there’s a different age group that’s spending the majority of its time alone. A new Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data has found that the majority of Americans over the age of 60 spend more than seven hours alone each day, a number which rises to ten in those who live alone.
In total, 14% of older Americans reported spending all their time alone, a figure which dips to 8% in groups younger than 60. Of these younger groups, those aged from 40 to 60 reported less than five hours of alone time per day. This figure dropped to under four hours in those aged younger than 40.
While 14% does not seem staggering, it is important to remember that those aged 60+ make up 22% of the US population, or 73 million. As the Baby Boomers continue to age, World Economic Forum reports that this figure is expected to rise to 26%, by 2030. This suggests that the loneliness problem is going to get worse in coming years.
Living alone was found to be the greatest factor in elderly loneliness, as the study found more than a quarter of those aged 60+ live alone. This group reported an average of over ten hours alone each day, a figure which is cut in half for those who live with a spouse.
While spending time alone is not linked to medical conditions, World Economic Forum explains, it is a measure of social isolation, which can have adverse affects. Those who spend the majority of their time alone receive little cognitive stimulation, which in turn can expedite the deterioration of the mind. Isolation can also be dangerous, in cases of medical emergency while alone.