There are 2.9 million people aged 65 and over who feel they have no one to go to for help and support, a new Age UK survey finds.
Of these, 39% said they felt lonely and one in five said they felt forgotten as a result of this.
In addition, half of younger people aged 25-44 admit to worrying about being alone in later life.
The research shows just how crucial having someone to turn to is if we’re to be happy and fulfilled in our lives. For those aged 65 and over, 81% said being able to talk and laugh with someone is the most important thing of all, with 57% saying physical contact has made them happy.
Nearly two thirds (62%) of all UK adults said this for having someone to eat with and 67% said that feeling that they are part of other people’s lives makes them happy.
No one should have no one
The findings come as Age UK prepares to launch No one should have no one on Monday 19 January in order to raise awareness about the millions of older people who are facing later life alone.
Age UK is calling for donations to enable it to continue the vital work of providing companionship, support and advice.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: 'We all face ups and downs and our survey shows that sadly, millions of older people could be doing so almost entirely alone.
'This means they have no one close with whom to share the good times, or to go to for support when life is tough or for trusted advice to help solve a nagging problem.
'That’s why we’re asking the public to donate today so we can continue to give millions of older people the companionship, support and advice they need.
'We also hope these findings will spur everyone into being good neighbours to older people living nearby. Truly, no one should have no one in our society and together we can make sure that no one does.'
Having someone to turn to is important to us all, and this was highlighted in the survey with many UK adults saying that everyday things, such as meals out (54%), going on holiday (42%) and being successful in our careers (37%) are currently less important than having someone to go to for help and support.
Older people and their families can call Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65 to find out how the Age UK network can help someone who may be feeling alone. Lines are open 365 days a year from 8am – 7pm.
To support Age UK’s work and help it provide companionship, advice and support for millions of people facing later life alone people can donate online.