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Parents feel isolated due to absent children

Published on 11 December 2012 11:30 AM

A charity has warned that hundreds of thousands of parents are left isolated because their grown-up children live too far away.

The report from the WRVS (formerly the Women's Royal Voluntary Service) claimed that a large majority of over-75s say they are lonely. However, these parents would not admit this to their own children, even though they depend on phone calls from their children for their main source of social contact.


David McCullough, head of WRVS, says this shows the 'state of the modern family', and the report describes how 'fragmented' family life can lead to little contact with their own children leaving older parents stranded.

It is estimated in the report that over 360,000 older people have children living too far away, and 'too busy to see them', and the regret over that lies equally with both sides. However, there is still regular contact, as the report states that about a quarter of older people speak to their children every day.

1 in 10 older people's children live over an hour away

The report highlights why children can become isolated from their parents, citing reasons such as moving away to work, and the job insecurity and associated pressure on time that means visiting parents becomes less of a priority.

It was found that 1 in 10 older parents do not have their children within an hour's drive, and of those number, only half enjoy visits from their children once every two to six months. Furthermore, 15% of such parents only see their children once a year.

The report finds loneliness to be a widespread problem among older people, and a sense of isolation grows from the absence of regular visits. Despite this, almost two-thirds of older parents would not want to bother their children with the burden of knowing about this sense of isolation, and the reports claims men are particularly at risk of social isolation.

It was found that about two in five older men have only two face-to-face conversations per day, and many depend on television as their main form of company. In a rather bleak conclusion at this time of year, the report claims that almost a quarter of a million older people are expected to spend Christmas Day on their own.

Copyright Press Association 2012

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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