Supporting the Health and Wellbeing of Middle-Aged Adults Living Alone in Rural Counties


Living alone is increasingly common and is associated with higher risk of social isolation and poor health for populations without access to appropriate support and resources. In light of increased isolation and social distancing related to the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding these heightened risks and the challenges associated with serving these individuals is all the more timely and important. Rates and experiences of living alone vary by age group, with middle-aged adults (ages 35-64) who live alone tending to be in worse health than their counterparts living with others. In addition to poorer health outcomes for middle-aged adults living alone, single non-elderly adults face unique barriers to accessing support when necessary, relative to children and older adults. As healthcare increasingly takes into account one's housing and social situation in providing care, more information is needed on how to best support middle-aged adults who are living alone. Additionally, given the unique demographic, socio-economic, housing, and healthcare context of rural communities, information on support for individuals living alone should be specific to geographic context. This report shares insights from healthcare providers in 14 rural counties with the highest rates of middle-aged adults living alone in order to inform policy and practice in how best to support the health and well-being of this demographic.

University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center
Carrie Henning-Smith, Mariana Tuttle, Ashley Hernandez, Jonathan Schroeder, Katy Kozhimannil