WASHINGTON, DC—A survey released today by AARP Foundation finds that people are feeling good about spending time with friends and family this holiday season, with many survey respondents noting that they are feeling happy (67%), loved (47%), joyful (46%) and excited (44%).
Yet the same survey also finds that three-in-ten respondents (31%) say they have felt lonely during past holiday seasons. In addition, four-in-ten (41%) respondents say they have worried about a friend or family member feeling lonely during the holidays.
The survey was released by AARP Foundation in support of Connect2Affect, AARP Foundation’s ongoing effort to build awareness about the impact of loneliness and social isolation that also includes resources created to help people learn about how they can stay connected.
“The survey results do give cause for concern,” said AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson. “Social isolation, which can be particularly hard felt during the holidays, has severe consequences on both emotional and physical well-being. Research shows the health effects of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
Strong social connections are fundamental to physical and mental health, with recent research finding that loneliness and social isolation are growing, and may represent a greater public health hazard than obesity. U.S. Census data shows that more than a quarter of the U.S. population is living alone, with isolation affecting more than 8 million older adults in the U.S.
Fortunately, opportunities to connect with each other appear to be greater during the holiday season. Thirty-four percent of AARP Foundation survey respondents say they experience more kindness from strangers during the holidays, with 60% of respondents saying they experience the same level of kindness.
Led by AARP Foundation, in collaboration with the Gerontological Society of America, Give an Hour, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and UnitedHealth Group, Connect2Affect features tools and resources to help evaluate isolation risk and find practical ways to reconnect with the community. Connect2Affect also provides visitors with access to a self-assessment test that asks yes or no questions relating to relationships, mobility and major life changes.
For more information about the holiday survey, social isolation and Connect2Affect, please visit connect2affect.org.
# # #
About AARP Foundation
AARP Foundation works to ensure that low-income older adults have nutritious food, affordable, livable and healthy housing, a steady income, and strong and sustaining bonds. We collaborate with individuals and organizations who share our commitment to innovation and our passion for problem-solving. Supported by vigorous legal advocacy, we create and advance effective solutions that help struggling older adults transform their lives. AARP Foundation is the affiliated charity of AARP. Learn more at aarpfoundation.org.
About the Survey Methodology
Survey results are from an online survey of 1,005 adults age 18 and over, and was fielded from November 10-12, 2017 as part of GfK’s US Omnibus survey. The sample was drawn from the GfK KnowledgePanel, a probability-based online survey panel representing the US adult population. The margin of error was +/- 3.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Data was weighted by gender, age, education, race/ethnicity, household income, and region to reflect US adults age 18 and over.