A closer look at loneliness in America

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A lonely young woman stares out a window in an empty room. One is the loneliest number, and many people worldwide feel just that — lonely. Loneliness is common in our own backyards, tied to various sources and risk factors. Get the facts about loneliness in America and why it’s vital to treat it.

Surprising stats about loneliness in America 

Loneliness is growing so rapidly that it’s been called an epidemic in its own right. It goes back even before the COVID-19 pandemic — which saw social distancing and lockdowns contribute to loneliness among the young and old alike. According to a 2019 report by Cigna, three in five Americans (61%) reported feeling lonely.

But what does this really mean? It’s hard to put faces to those experiencing pervasive loneliness, so let’s look at loneliness in America across different groups.


Research often points to solving loneliness for the elderly, who frequently live alone, are past working age and have fewer friends and family ties. What’s interesting is that older people aren’t necessarily more lonely because of these things and all age groups require attention. The same Cigna report backs this up, showing that 79% of Gen Z and 71% of millennials are lonely, compared to 50% of baby boomers.

The truth is that there are no hard-and-fast age-related predictors of loneliness. Instead, what is common are general predictors of loneliness, such as:

  • Living alone.
  • Having poor health.
  • Socializing infrequently. 
  • Lack of a strong support network 

These pieces tie into social determinants of health (SDOH) needs, which strongly influence someone’s risk of loneliness.


Loneliness between genders is complicated, partly because men and women are socialized differently. Studies show that women are more likely to talk about their feelings of loneliness — reporting feeling lonely “often/always,” “some of the time” and “occasionally” at higher rates than men. 

But in an interesting twist, men are lonelier overall. Of those who take the UCLA-3, 45% of men score as lonely, compared to 42% of women. Men are also three times more likely to score high for psychological distress but less likely to get mental health treatment.

On top of all this, LGBTQ individuals experience loneliness at higher rates — despite increased acceptance across the country — because of stigma, discrimination and barriers to care.


Money might not buy happiness, but there are some ties between income and loneliness in America. According to a study by KFF, only 11% of individuals who earn a higher income identify as lonely, whereas a staggering 58% of their low-income individuals report feeling lonely.

The aforementioned Cigna study distills this even further, showing the hard number score differences between low- and high-income earners on the UCLA-3:

  • Incomes of $25K or less: 50.6
  • Incomes of $125K+: 43.3

This makes sense when you consider the strain on low-income people and their elevated SDOH needs. They’re often living in poverty, which worsens isolation and loneliness because the focus is on earning income and not having time to engage in social activities. due to debts and the increasing cost of living. 

It’s time to debunk the myths around loneliness! Download our infographic to  uncover the truth about loneliness and who it really impacts.

The importance of solving for loneliness

Some people don’t realize that loneliness can spill into every facet of life, from social relationships to work and play. It puts a burden on people’s health — especially on the heart and brain. These troubling health effects of loneliness in America make it vital to solve this problem.

Heart health concerns

According to the CDC, lonely and socially isolated people have a 29% increased risk of heart disease and four times the risk of death from heart failure. That’s partly because their bodies produce too much cortisol — which at healthy levels supports cardiovascular health — leading to deregulation. 

Neurological risks

A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report echoes similar risks for neurological problems. The research shows that loneliness leads to a 32% higher chance of stroke, especially for older adults. And because lonely adults are affected so deeply, loneliness diminishes their cognition, driving the risk of dementia up to 50%. 

These pieces matter because they form a chain of events. Lonely people are less likely to engage in their lives and health care, perpetuating a cycle of poor health, increasing health costs and even leading to premature death. By intervening early, individuals are more likely to seek preventive care and adhere to medical guidance rather than rely on expensive ED visits when problems get out of hand. 

Approach loneliness in a new way

Loneliness in America affects every age, gender and income level, and new research emerges every day to provide even more context for the differences between these groups. That said, one thing is clear: We can’t ignore loneliness because it can cause more long-term health problems. 

That’s why Pyx Health takes a compassion-centered approach combined with technology. Our innovative app delivers care to your plan members from all angles, providing engaging activities, offering support in cultivating social relationships and connecting users with health resources. Additionally, members get 24/7 access to ANDYs (Authentic, Nurturing, Dependable, Your friend) to message, call and turn to for advice and guidance. 

Think Pyx Health could work with your plan? Dive deeper into the truth about loneliness in America from our infographic and get in touch to discuss options.

The cover of infographic, Loneliness: Debunking the myths