Age UK is calling for vital donations to help fight loneliness after a new survey reveals that over 1 million people aged 65 and over admit to always or often feeling lonely.
The survey commissioned by the charity shows how widespread loneliness is in the UK.
Loneliness affects people all year round with 30% of older people saying they would like to go out more often, while 41% say their TV or pet is their main form of companion.
Age UK research also shows that 12% feel cut off from society.
Damaging effects of loneliness
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%.
Age UK is calling for vital donations to help fight loneliness through its national and local services.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: ‘At Age UK we know how devastating loneliness can be for older people and these figures are another reminder of the scale of this issue.
‘Loneliness not only makes life miserable for older people, it’s also really bad for their health, making them more vulnerable to illness and disease.
‘It’s 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.’
What Age UK is doing to help end loneliness
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.
Donate over the phone, online or by text
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 visit Age UK’s Help end loneliness page to donate or find out more.
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.