FRIDAY, Sept. 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Older adults are feeling more isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report published online Sept. 14 based on the results of the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging.

Preeti Malani, M.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues asked a national sample of 2,074 U.S. adults (aged 50 to 80 years) about lack of companionship and isolation (loneliness), social interactions, and health behaviors in June 2020. Results were compared to those from a similar survey conducted in October 2018.

The authors note that two in five adults (41 percent) reported feeling a lack of companionship in June 2020 versus 34 percent in October 2018. More than half of adults surveyed (56 percent) reported feeling isolated from others now versus 27 percent in 2018. Similarly, infrequent social contact worsened from 28 percent in 2018 to 46 percent now. Nearly six in 10 respondents said they connected with friends and family via social media, 46 percent said they interacted with people in their neighborhood, and 31 percent reported using video chat with friends and family.

“As the pandemic continues, it will be critical to pay attention to how well we as a society support the social and emotional needs of older adults,” a coauthor said in a statement. “The intersection of loneliness and health still needs much study, but even as we gather new evidence, all of us can take time to reach out to older neighbors, friends, and relatives in safe ways as they try to avoid the coronavirus.”

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