More than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
Contrary to what many people think, loneliness is not a normal part of ageing, and it not only makes life miserable, it can have a serious impact on your physical and mental health too.
Unless we act, our rapidly ageing population means we’ll see ever greater numbers of lonely older people and, because loneliness undermines resilience, this also means more pressure on our already stretched NHS and social care services.
What are we calling for?
We want local and national government to understand that older people’s loneliness really matters; that it’s a serious public health problem and not a normal part of ageing, and we want them commit to take action with us to prevent and tackle it.
In March 2016 we handed in a petition to the Prime Minister signed by 57,000 campaigners. The petition drew attention to this big issue for older people, mobilising the public to help prevent and alleviate it, and aimed to encourage the Government to take action.
But loneliness definitely can't be fixed by Government alone, we all have a role to play:
- as individuals – by being friendly to the older people around us
- as families – by making the effort to stay in touch with older relatives, beyond our immediate family and those living nearby
- as communities – by actively supporting our local Age UK and other voluntary groups that help older people to have fun, make new friends and enjoy the company of others.
You can find out more about what's happening in your area by visiting www.ageuk.org.uk/local