Existing research reveals that single men living alone are at a heightened risk of isolation and precarity. This study traced the impact of the pandemic on the daily lives of a group of single men over three waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom.
A qualitative longitudinal study with older people aged 50 and older (n = 102), interviewed by telephone in 2020–2021. This analysis focuses on a subsample comprising single men (n = 16) who lived alone and were interviewed three times (n = 48). The men were White British, Black, and Asian, aged 58–88 years, and were identified as facing difficulties in their lives arising from long-term health problems and or/social isolation. Participants were asked about the impact of, and response to, three lockdowns. Data were analyzed using themes identified in the secondary literature using thematic and longitudinal analysis.
For single men living alone, precarity intensified during the pandemic due to worsening physical and/or mental health combined with restricted access to relationships and activities. Key moments in the life course influenced how these men experienced and viewed the impact of COVID-19.
This analysis sheds light on the deepening precarity of older men living alone during the pandemic, highlighting the emergence of new vulnerabilities for some. The findings emphasize the need, given the likelihood of future waves of the pandemic, to target support at those living alone, particularly in relation to the provision of community health services, social infrastructure, and combating digital exclusion.