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The Holiday Season: Joy, Love & Loneliness


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Many people associate the holidays with warm feelings of love and joy. But for others, it can be a lonely, difficult time.

A new AARP Foundation survey found that 67 percent of adults feel happy when thinking about spending time with family and friends this holiday season; in addition, many feel loved (47 percent), joy (46 percent) and excited (44 percent). About a third (34 percent) say they typically receive more kindness from strangers this time of year.

Still, it’s not always easy.

Thirty-one percent of respondents say they have felt lonely during the holiday season sometime during the past five years, and 41 percent have worried about a family member or friend feeling lonesome.

The survey was released by AARP Foundation in support of Connect2Affect, the Foundation’s long-term commitment to help end isolation and build the social connections older adults need to thrive.

A collaborative effort with the Gerontological Society of America, Give an Hour, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and UnitedHealth Group, Connect2Affect features tools and resources to help evaluate isolation risk and find practical ways to reconnect with the community. A self-assessment test asks yes or no questions relating to relationships, mobility and major life changes, with responses that offer encouragement and additional information.

The survey was given to 1,005 adults age 18 and over from November 10 to November 12, 2017, as part of GfK’s US KnowledgePanel Omnibus survey. The nationally representative sample was weighted by gender, age, education, race/ethnicity, household income and region. 

AARP Foundation, the affiliated charity of AARP, helps vulnerable older adults build economic opportunity and social connections to end senior poverty.

For more information contact Sarah Kerman at


Suggested Citation:

Kerman, Sarah. The Holiday Season: Joy, Love & Loneliness. Washington, DC: AARP Research, November 2017.

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