Three-quarters of older people in the UK are lonely
Individuals and firms urged to look for signs after results of poll carried out for Jo Cox commission on loneliness
Almost half of the 73% who described themselves as lonely in the online poll said they had been so for years.
Almost three-quarters of older people in the UK are lonely and more than half of those have never spoken to anyone about how they feel, according to a survey carried out for the Jo Cox commision on loneliness.
The poll by Gransnet, the over-50s social networking site, also found that about seven in 10 (71%) respondents – average age 63 – said their close friends and family would be surprised or astonished to hear that they felt lonely.
Gransnet is one of nine organisations – including Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and the Silver Line helpline for older people – working to address the issue of loneliness in older people, which is the current focus of the commission, set up by Cox before her murder last June.
They are urging individuals and businesses to look for signs of loneliness and refer people to organisations that can help. But they also want people to take time to speak to neighbours, family, old friends or those they encounter randomly.
The chairs of the cross-party commission, the Labour MP Rachel Reeves and Conservative MP Seema Kennedy, said there was a stigma around loneliness that must be tackled.
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“We all need to act and encourage older people to freely talk about their loneliness,” they said. “Everyone can play a part in ending loneliness among older people in their communities by simply starting a conversation with those around you.”
“How we care and act for those around us could mean the difference between an older person just coping, to them loving and enjoying later life.”
Almost half (49%) of the 73% who described themselves as lonely in the online poll said they had been so for years, 11% said they had always felt lonely and 56% said they had never spoken about their loneliness to anyone.
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