Loneliness prevalent at older ages

Mature Hearts Team Research

Research carried out by Age UK highlights just how prevalent loneliness is in the UK amongst the older age group. Unfortunately, there are too many people over the age of 65 who have no one to turn to. This should never happen.

Some of the findings were:

  • Being in poor health was by far the biggest factor associated with chronic loneliness
  • The next most important were being widowed and living alone
  • Some factors normally assumed to be associated with loneliness, such as area deprivation, poverty and living in a rural area, proved not to be significant

You can find the full research here.

Age UK noted in a press release that recent studies showed:

  • 12 per cent of older people feel trapped in their own home
  • 6 per cent of older people leave their house once a week
  • Nearly 200,000 older people in the UK do not get out of their house or flat
  • 17 per cent of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week and 11 per cent less than once a month
  • More than half (51 per cent) of all people aged 75 and over live alone
  • Loneliness can increase the risk of premature death by 30 per cent

The charity also noted that one study found loneliness can be more harmful than smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Julianne Holt-Lundstad stody from 2010: https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316.)

Age UK’s Charity Director, Caroline Abrahams, said: ‘Loneliness blights the lives of over a million older people, with many going for weeks without any meaningful human contact. It is a serious condition which can be enormously damaging, both mentally and physically. However it’s time that people stopped thinking about loneliness as an inevitable part of ageing. At Age UK we believe that we all have a responsibility to take action and that the right interventions can make a huge difference to the older people in our lives.

You can support the Age UK Loneliness campaign here.

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