1.7m older widows live alone
Published on 01 November 2013 02:00 PM
Over one-and-a-half million widows aged over 65 live on their own in the UK, official statistics reveal.
Widows in this age category account for more than a fifth of the total 7.7 million people who currently live alone, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says.
The figures cover the current year and come with a warning from charities that the risk of loneliness can be heightened by bereavement, and that small acts of kindness can go a long way to making someone feel less alone.
Nowadays an estimated 29% of the total UK population live by themselves, almost one in every three people. Back in 1971 this proportion was just 17%, or around one in six.
Small acts of kindness help older people feel less alone
The figures also suggest that the number of people over the age of 45 living on their own has been rising over the past 10 years.
The sharpest increase in solo living was recorded among those aged 45-64, up 28% since 2003, the ONS reports.
This rise could, however, be attributed to the fact that the population of people in this age group is increasing rapidly, thanks to the so-called baby boom generation, the ONS suggests.
The number of older people living alone has increased by 8% over the last 10 years, the figures show.
Many older people ‘missing out on essential care'
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: 'We are extremely concerned that cuts to local authority budgets are exacerbating the problem of loneliness and isolation for many older people.
'The ongoing crisis in the provision of social care means that large numbers of older people are missing out on essential care that could make the difference between staying active and becoming isolated.'
Verity Haines, of the Royal Voluntary Service which helps older people who are housebound, said: 'Solitary confinement is regarded in the Western world as a punishment and yet we are allowing many members of our older generations to face a similar experience.
'Something as simple as a weekly visit from a friendly face, a lift to the shops or a chat over a cup of tea can mean the difference between an older person living a happy life or a lonely one.'
Copyright Press Association 2013