New Report Shows One in Six Older Adults Feel Isolated

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During Mental Health Awareness and Older Americans Month, Lehigh Valley organizations collaborate to build social connection among seniors.


Allentown, PA, May 27, 2020 A new survey of Lehigh Valley seniors reveals that one in four respondents report that they lack companionship and one in six report feeling isolated from others.

“May is Mental Health Awareness Month as well as Older Americans Month, and we’re using this opportunity to raise awareness about chronic loneliness among our seniors. Older adults who are chronically lonely live shorter lives and are more likely to have problems with memory, mental health and physical health,” said Carmen Bell, Director of Healthy Aging, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

The Lehigh Valley Seniors: Healthy at Home 2019 Update was prepared for United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley by the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. The telephone-based survey questioned 1,020 seniors age 65 and older living in Lehigh and Northampton counties.

“Although the vast majority of survey respondents said that they hardly ever feel lonely, a troubling minority report often feeling lonely. Some seniors are especially vulnerable to long-lasting loneliness, including seniors who live alone, those who are low-income and those who have difficulty meeting their basic needs,” reported Lanethea Mathews-Schultz, Ph.D., Muhlenberg College Professor of Political Science.

“Now that we understand how many seniors are affected, we can collaborate to more effectively connect and engage everyone as part of a healthy, inclusive and Age-Friendly Lehigh Valley,” added Bell. “Unfortunately, the older adults who were already experiencing social isolation are now increasingly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Since the start of the pandemic, organizations including Lehigh Valley Active Life and SeniorsCorps RSVP of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon Counties have worked together to find ways to connect with seniors virtually.

“Regular telephone check-ins provide companionship and the chance to see who may need help with food, transportation or other resources,” said Bell. “We’re now working with partners to assess the need for a more formal program to reach our most at-risk seniors.”

If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Carmen Bell at

To view the Lehigh Valley Seniors: Healthy at Home 2019 Update, visit


Mission of United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley

The mission of United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley is to provide the leadership, convene the partnerships, and develop the resources and solutions that improve our community. We remain committed to these goals and sincerely appreciate the continued support of partners, program providers and donors throughout the Lehigh Valley.


Information provided to TVL by:
Laura McHugh
Associate Vice President, Communications and Media Relations
United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley
Celebrating 100 years of service to the Lehigh Valley.
1110 American Parkway NE  Suite F-120  Allentown, PA 18109