600,000 are 'prisoners in own home'
Published on 08 March 2012 03:00 PM
A study into the day-to-day activities of older people has found that more than 600,000 members of the older population do not leave their homes more than once a week.
Age UK research suggests that people are increasingly becoming prisoners in their own homes.
This comes at a time when cuts are being made to essential community services like Post Offices and local bus routes.
One out of every 20 older people in the UK face isolation and loneliness on a day-to-day basis, the study indicates.
Almost two million people who have retired find it difficult to make a visit to the Post Office, corner shop or supermarket, the research suggests. Visiting the most necessary services, such as a local doctor's surgery, is something 15% - or 1.6 million members - of the older population struggle to do.
The government's most-favoured solutions to this, such as getting older generations online, are not showing quick results and have only been marginally successful.
With the rising cost of fuel, more than one million more households have now entered fuel poverty over the past 24 months, and most of these cases involve older people.
Director general of Age UK, Michelle Mitchell, said the results of the study and the fact that older people are becoming increasingly isolated and unable to carry out basic errands are a 'sad reflection' of today's society.
She said going to the Post Office, doctors or corner shop are 'vital lifelines' for older people and provide contact with others, along with vital services, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable.
'With a growing older population, we need to make sure that those in later life are brought into the hearts of our communities, not left on the periphery with little social contact across the generations,' Ms Mitchell said.
'With cuts in bus routes as a result of a reduction in local authority subsidies and the recent post office closures, the situation can only get worse.
'We urge the Government to find new ways to ease the impact of cuts and closures on the people who need them most.'
Copyright Press Association 2012