Social distancing measures and stay at home orders have been expanded across the United States as the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified. To date, at least 42 states have implemented some sort of mandate urging residents to stay home.
In the United States, one-quarter of older adults live alone – more than in any other country. Social and physical restrictions may pose particular challenges for these individuals, who often rely on non- coresidential support systems for social interaction, help with getting groceries, or going to doctor appointments, and for some, help with activities of daily living such as bathing, eating and dressing. In addition, approximately 80 percent of Americans ages 65 and older live with at least one chronic condition, putting them at higher risk of dying from COVID-19 and making the stay-at-home mandates that much more salient. As social distancing measures further constrain support systems that these older individuals who live alone depend upon, this vulnerable group may experience increased loneliness, depression and anxiety as well as worsening pre-existing chronic conditions.
We analyzed the well-being of older individuals who live alone using data collected in March 2020 from the Understanding America Study, an ongoing internet-based national survey conducted by the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research.
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