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A problem shared really is a problem halved - study

Published on 27 March 2012 11:30 PM

New research from Age UK indicates that we're not only a nation of worriers, but also the old adage that 'a problem shared is a problem halved' really does stand true.

A nation of worriers

The UK is a nation of worriers who doesn't share its problems, according to research from Age UK that reveals that nearly a fifth of UK adults (18%) constantly have something playing on their mind.

Over half of the population (53%) shoulder several worries a day, and 17% carry around more than 10 worries at any one time.

Top worries shared by adults in the UK include financial concerns - the biggest worry for almost half of people (49%). This is followed by:

  • health,
  • getting older,
  • the stress of work,
  • and weight-related worries.

When comparing older and younger generations, the study revealed more than half (55%) of those aged over 55 worry most about their health, with getting older, and then financial issues following close behind.

For 18-24 year-olds, money is the biggest concern (49%), followed by work stresses and job prospects.

We bottle things up

Despite an increasing culture of sharing personal information through social networks and online gossip, when it comes to more serious issues over half of the UK population bottle up their problems and worries (57%).

When asked what the top three reasons for keeping worries to themselves were:

  • 44% of people said they should cope on their own,
  • followed by not wanting to burden anyone else with their troubles,
  • and not being comfortable talking about their personal issues.

... But a problem shared is a problem halved

The research was commissioned by Age UK to mark the launch of a new TV advertising campaign which highlights the fact that we provide free information and advice services.

And the old adage of ‘a problem shared is a problem halved' was borne out by the study, which showed that when people share worries with others, it can really improve their situation:

  • Around 3 in 10 adults share their worries (29%). Of these, over a third (36%) feel brighter as a result
  • A quarter (26%) feel relief when they have confided in someone about a problem
  • 8% feel that the problem has gone away once shared

Actor Larry Lamb, who narrates the new Age UK TV ad highlighting the benefits of seeking advice about growing older, said: 'There's no doubt in my mind that opening up and sharing thoughts, fears, and experiences can really help - whatever your age. The vital work that Age UK does provides people with information and advice to cope in later life and means none of us has to keep things to ourselves and feel alone.'

Age UK offers free and impartial information and advice

Age UK's Information and Advice service offers a wealth of free, friendly and impartial advice to people in later life, their friends, family and carers. Trained advisors can help people in all sorts of situations to make informed decisions about a range of age-related topics including money, health, residential care, and housing-related and consumer issues.

Lucy Harmer, Head of Information and Advice at Age UK, said: 'We know from the research that a vast proportion of us worry about financial, health and work issues, and getting older plays on lots of adults' minds. We want to show older people and their friends, families and carers that there is someone to turn to with your worries and no one has to feel like a burden.'

For more details and to talk to someone who can help, call Age UK Advice free on 0800 169 65 65.

Factsheets and guides on your rights, policies, practices and national and local services are also available to download from our website.

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Last updated: Jun 09 2020

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