In 2023, one in three adults age 50–80 (34%) reported feeling isolated from others (29% some of the time, 5% often) in the past year. This represents a marked decline compared with the 56% (43% some of the time, 13% often) who felt isolated in 2020, but a greater proportion than the 27% (22% some of the time, 5% often) who reported feeling isolated in 2018.
National Poll On Healthy Aging (March 2023) – More than one in three older adults (37%) reported feeling a lack of companionship (29% some of the time, 8% often) in the past year, compared with 41% (32% some of the time, 9% often) in 2020, and 34% (26% some of the time, 8% often) in 2018.
One in three older adults (33%) reported infrequent contact (once a week or less) with people from outside their home in 2023 (14% once a week, 10% every 2–3 weeks, 9% once a month or less). This rate of infrequent contact was significantly less than the 46% reported in 2020 (19% once a week, 11% every 2–3 weeks, 16% once a month or less), but higher than the 28% reported in 2018 (15% once a week, 7% every 2–3 weeks, 6% once a month or less).
When asked how likely they would be to get a COVID-19 vaccine when available and if no cost to them, 58% of older adults indicated they would be likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine (33% very likely, 25% somewhat likely), 28% said they were unlikely (11% somewhat unlikely, 17% very unlikely), and 14% were unsure or did not know.
About two in three older adults (63%) indicated they received a flu shot last flu season. Seven in ten either received one since August 2020 (34%) or intended to get one this flu season (38%). Nearly half of adults age 50–80 (49%) believed that getting a flu vaccine is more important this year compared to other years, 44% said it is just as important, and 7% said it was less important.
Interest in getting a COVID-19 vaccine was more common among those age 65–80 compared with those 50–64 (63% vs. 54%), men compared with women (64% vs. 52%), and Whites compared with Hispanics and Blacks (63% vs. 51% vs. 40%). Individuals who lived with others, had higher household incomes, or had more education were also more likely to report they would get a COVID vaccine.
Half of adults age 50–80 (52%) said they personally knew someone who had COVID-19, and 2% reported having had it themselves. One in five older adults (19%) indicated they personally knew someone who died from COVID-19. The likelihood of getting a COVID-19 vaccine did not differ based on whether respondents knew someone who had COVID-19 or who died from it.
In deciding whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine, older adults rated the following as very important: how well it works (80%), their own research (56%), and if it was recommended by their doctor (52%), public health officials (42%), or family and friends (13%). Cost was rated as very important by 30% of older adults.
From 2019 to 2020, there was a substantial increase in the proportion of older adults who reported that their health care providers offered telehealth visits. In May 2019, 14% of older adults said that their health care providers offered telehealth visits, compared to 62% in June 2020.
Similarly, the percentage of older adults who had ever participated in a telehealth visit rose sharply from 4% in May 2019 to 30% in June 2020. Of those surveyed in 2020, 6% reported having a telehealth visit prior to March 2020, while 26% reported having a telehealth visit in the period from March to June 2020.
Over the past year, some concerns about telehealth visits decreased among adults age 50–80 whether or not they had a telehealth visit. Older adults’ concerns about privacy in telehealth visits decreased from 49% in May 2019 to 24% in June 2020, and concerns about having difficulty seeing or hearing health care providers in telehealth visits decreased from 39% in May 2019 to 25% in June 2020. Concerns about not feeling personally connected to the health care provider decreased slightly (49% to 45%).
This poll examined older adults’ experiences with nine forms of everyday ageism. These forms were categorized into three groups: (1) exposure to ageist messages, (2) ageism in interpersonal interactions, and (3) internalized ageism (personally held beliefs
about aging and older people).