Giving Compass' Take:

• A new poll from the University of Michigan shows that loneliness doubled among older adults in first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

• What are factors that inhibit loneliness? How are mental health professionals addressing this issue?

• This article shares how a collaborative care model overcame the challenges that nursing homes face during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Staying close to home and avoiding crowded places can help older adults reduce their risk of COVID-19. But the new national poll suggests it comes with a cost, especially for those with health challenges.

According to the findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, in June of this year, 56% of people over the age of 50 said they sometimes or often felt isolated from others—more than double the 27% who felt that way in a similar poll in 2018.

Nearly half of those polled in June of this year also said they felt more isolated than they had just before the pandemic arrived in the United States, and a third said they felt they had less companionship than before.

Social contacts suffered too, with 46% of older adults reporting in June that they infrequently interacted with friends, neighbors, or family outside their household—doing so once a week or less—compared with 28% who said this in 2018.

The poll points to some bright spots, too. For instance, the 46% of older adults who said they interacted with people in their neighborhood at least once a week were less likely to say they’d experienced forms of loneliness.

Technology also helped many people over 50 connect with others—59% reported using social media at least once a week, and 31% used video chat at least once a week. The use of technology to connect appears to be a double-edged sword, however, with those who use social media and video chat being more likely to say they felt isolated.

Read the full article about loneliness during the pandemic by Kara Gavin at Futurity.