Loneliness is a huge issue that affects people all year round with nearly a third (30%) of older people saying they would like to go out more often.
A new Age UK survey has found that over one million over 65s in the UK describe themselves as always or often feeling lonely, up on last year, and two in five (41%) say that their TV or pet is now their main form of company.
Age UK’s research also reveals that one in eight people (12%) aged 65 plus are feeling cut off from society.
Loneliness can be seriously damaging and recent studies have shown it has double the impact of obesity and that feeling extreme loneliness can increase an older person’s chances of premature death by 14 per cent.
The Charity is calling for donations to help fight loneliness through its vital national and local services.
“Loneliness not only makes life miserable for older people it is also really bad for their health making them more vulnerable to illness and disease. It is time to take loneliness seriously and that’s why we’re asking everyone to take action by donating today to help us carry on supporting older people to make the most out of later life.
“Voluntary sector services like Age UK’s have never been more important because funding cuts are forcing many of the local services that help older people stay connected, such as lunch clubs, to scale down or close.”
Actress Lynda Bellingham said: “As we begin to think about enjoying warmer weather and longer days, many older people are trapped indoors feeling very isolated and alone. Loneliness is a very real problem for too many people and that’s why I’m backing Age UK’s vital work in fighting this issue.”
Age UK is helping to tackle loneliness by supporting a range of services such as befriending which might include home visits and telephone calls for people who are feeling lonely or isolated. This offers company, reassurance and a vital link to the outside world, often acting as a gateway for other services and valuable support.
Many local Age UKs also provide other social activities such as lunch clubs and day centre activities including exercise classes, coffee mornings, as well as volunteering opportunities which play a crucial part in preventing loneliness and helping make later life better.
Regular contact from other local Age UK services can be life-changing and give older people the confidence they need to feel more connected and less isolated.
To help Age UK end loneliness people can donate today by calling 0800 169 8787 or texting HELLO to 70004 to donate £3 and help make later life better. Alternatively people can go to www.ageuk.org.uk/get-involved/loneliness.
Older people and their families can get in touch with Age UK to see how the Charity could help someone who may be feeling lonely by calling Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65.