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Published on 30 June 2020 12:33 PM

Loneliness is growing

It is predicted that between 2008 and 2033 there will be a 44% increase in the number of 65-74 year olds living alone, a 38% increase in those aged 75-85 and a 145% increase in those aged 85+.

Loneliness is a major public health concern

Research shows that being lonely can have a negative impact on physical and mental health. Loneliness:

  • Can be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • Increases Mortality by 26%
  • Is associated with increased risk of developing coronary heart disease
  • Increases risk of high blood pressure
  • Lonely individuals are at higher risk of the onset of disability
  • Has an effect on mental health –
    • Loneliness puts individuals at great risk of developing dementia and are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's, prone to depression and is predictive of suicide in older age.

Research has also shown that loneliness leads to

  • a Higher incidence of falls
  • use of accident and emergency services
  • and increases risk factors leading to early entry into residential or nursing care.

Nearly half of older people say that television or pets are their main form of company.

Age UK Cambridgeshire and Peterborough works to combat loneliness through influencing, campaigning and service provision.  We strive to strengthen our communities to tackle loneliness through loneliness reduction services.

Improved community-based loneliness services, not only helps individuals to live more happily but may help alleviate pressures on the NHS.


Our local work is underpinned by evidence and data. As part of a brand partnership agreement with Age UK we have access to a variety of resources. One of those tools is the Loneliness ‘heat’ Maps.

The heat map shows the relative risk of loneliness across 32,844 neighbourhoods in England. The relative risk of loneliness is based on the Census 2011 figures for the factors:

  • marital status
  • self-reported health status
  • age
  • household size

These four factors predict around 20% of the loneliness observed amongst older people 65 and over as represented in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).

You can access the heat map and check your area in the link below.

Local Statistics

There are 152,274 people aged 65 and over living in our county, at least 11.5 % of whom live alone (17,511) and over 16% (2,802) of them say they often feel ignored or invisible.

What can we do?

If you would like us to come and talk to your organisation or group about how you can help to alleviate loneliness in your community please contact us on 0300 666 9860 or email

What can you do?

Help us to be there for older people. Contact us, your local charity and all of your donation will stay within Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and used to support local people.

Loneliness research and resources

Data and articles