Loneliness became an epidemic in America over the last two years. As we hit the second anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become more evident that millions of Americans spent this period on their own, or with very little contact with others. There are over 20 million people who live in single-person households in the U.S. Not all of these people spend their time alone, but the daily experience is very different from that of people who live in homes with many members. The number of people who live alone, on a percentage basis, generally increases as people get older, and spikes upward for those over 75 years old.
The pandemic is not over, and many fewer people may get sick in the future. However, the COVID-19 virus is more likely to remain more dangerous to health than the common flu. Some degree of isolation, particularly for the old, or people with chronic conditions will remain at an elevated level.
AgingInPlace has just released a study titled “Loneliest States: The U.S. States Where Loneliness Is Most Likely”. The authors point out that “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on all of us, but those who were already struggling with loneliness saw this become much worse during social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders.”
To rank states, the researchers reviewed the number of single-person households, the number of widowed people, and the number of people who are divorced. They added searches for friendship and dating apps which included Tinder, Match.com, and Nextdoor. The maximum “loneliness” score for any state was 10.
There does not appear to be any geographic pattern among the states at the top of the list. Maine ranks first at 7.60. It is followed by Florida (often considered a retirement area) at 7.00, Ohio at 6.68, New Mexico at 6.60, and Vermont at 6.28.
At the far end of the spectrum, Utah had a score of .72, followed by Alaska at 2.32, and Hawaii at 2.56. Once again, there is no geographic pattern among them. Utah’s score, however, does appear to have a single cause. The researchers wrote: “The state has a huge Mormon community with more than half of Utahns identifying themselves as Mormons. This may contribute to the low numbers of divorce and single-person households.”
Click here to read The Worst States To Grow Old In
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