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L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Gerontologist

Myth: Older Adults are Lonely and Depressed

When we look at the research around this belief, we find that in truth, older adults are happier, less depressed, and feel less lonely than their children or grandchildren. Large studies done over the last dozen years, in both the United States and the UK, show that less than one-third of seniors describe themselves as unhappy and/or lonely, compared with 40% of young people and 35% of adults in their forties and fifties. The highest spike in reported loneliness actually occurs among the young—people 16-30, who are reporting near epidemic levels of feeling isolated and lonely despite having a phone in their hands 24/7.  Anyone over sixty grew up in an era before high tech– if you don’t count the rabbit ears on top of the TV as advanced technology– in a time when socializing and talking in person were the chief entertainments and the glue in every family and community. We have carried with us, and still use, those social skills learned when young from Mom and Dad and at school, to keep us feeling connected and supported as we grow older.

While there exists a growing number of seniors who feel lonely and depressed because of physical or other limitations, even with the growing number of Baby Boomers reaching senior status, the percentage is still low in comparison to the younger generations.

Published Feb 2, 2019