Older Adults Who Live Alone Benefited from Seeing People in Person during the COVID Pandemic but Not Necessarily by Talking on the Phone




Fingerman, Karen L.
Ng, Yee To
Zhang, Shiyang
Britt, Katherine
Colera, Gianna
Birditt, Kira S.
Charles, Susan T.

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University of Texas at Austin Population Research Center



Approximately one-third of women and one-fifth of men aged 60 and over in the U.S. live alone and are at heightened risk of social isolation due to social distancing and other safety precautions introduced to curtail the spread of COVID-19. This brief, from PRC faculty research associate Karen Fingerman and colleagues, reports on a recent study which examines how daily positive emotions and negative emotions vary based on whether people live alone during the pandemic. They found that older adults who live alone experienced more positive emotions when they saw someone in person compared to those who had no in-person contact but that older adults who live alone experienced more negative emotions, especially loneliness, when they talked to someone on the phone. They are argue that those who want to support emotional well-being in older adults who live alone with in-person contact should do so while following COVID-19 safety guidelines.

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