More than 3m older people rely on friendly neighbours to brighten up their days
Published on 11 February 2019 12:00 AM
Age UK urges the UK public to stop and chat with their older neighbours in a bid to help combat loneliness.
New research for charity Age UK shows just how important neighbours are in the lives of older people, with 3.4 million over-65s relying on chats with their neighbours to brighten their day.
With a staggering 1.7 million older people in England going for a whole month without meeting up with a friend and an estimated 300,000 over-65s not having a conversation with their family or friends over this same period , the Charity is urging everybody to take just a few minutes of their time to chat to their older neighbours to brighten up their day.
Whilst neighbourly natters topped the list, passers-by being happy to talk can also play a vital role in tackling loneliness, with 10 per cent of older people saying a chat with a dog-walker or other passer-by makes their day better.
Staff at newsagents, cafes and other local shops play an equally important role, with 11 per cent (1.3m) of older people relying on conversations there to cheer their days , and 10 per cent (1.2m) relying on chats with supermarket staff .
Age UK has a long history of providing services which help address loneliness, for example through offering a range of activities for older people to enjoy at their local Age UKs including lunch clubs, cooking classes, dance lessons and crucial advice when there’s no one else to turn to.
Loneliness is a huge issue that affects people all year round but it can become even harder during the winter months. Colder weather brings an increase in associated health problems for those in later life and short, dark days make it harder to get out and about, which can leave older people feeling more isolated and alone and more reliant on family, friends or neighbours able to pop by.
Age UK Ambassador Levi Roots, who recently visited Age UK Barnet men’s cooking class, said: “Loneliness is an awful feeling to experience. I know first-hand how upsetting it can be, I felt like the loneliest person in the world at one point and I see it in my 88-year-old mother too. One of the best things we, as a society, can do is to give up our personal time to help fight it. Pop round to see a neighbour or family member, have a cup of tea with them, help with the shopping, just check in and chat when you can.
“For me, cooking together is a great idea to help older people feel less lonely – it can bring back fond memories for many and really brighten up someone’s day. Not only that, it’s a great way to keep active and be healthy too. These things can really make such a difference and change somebody’s life.”
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK, said: “Loneliness sucks the joy out of life and affects far too many older people, but if we all play our part there’s a lot we can do to tackle the problem.
“As people age, their local area usually matters a lot more to them than it did when they were younger because they spend more time in it. None of us can ‘solve loneliness’ on our own, but a friendly chat with your neighbour or when you’re out and about can brighten up an older person’s day and do much more good than most of us would ever guess.”
Age UK and its local partners across the country work to combat loneliness through a range of services and activities, such as lunch clubs, cookery classes and advice and support when there’s no one else to turn to.
Older people and their families or friends can also call Age UK’s Advice Line for free on 0800 169 65 65, visit www.ageuk.org.uk or contact their local Age UK to find out what help is available in their local area. The Advice Line is open 365 days a year from 8am to 7pm.
The Charity relies on donations from the public so it can continue to be there for older people and their families and friends. For more information and to donate, visit www.ageuk.org.uk/donate
For more information
Contact the Age UK Media team on 020 3033 1430 (out of hours: 07071 243 243).
We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI and our local Age UK partners in England (together the Age UK Family). We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.
Age UK believes that everyone should have the opportunity to make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances. We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well-being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle.
Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we"). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).
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Notes to editors
[i]29 per cent, approx. 3,440,000 people aged 65+, answered ‘Neighbours’ when asked: Would you say that you ever rely on regular chats with any of the following to brighten your days? Kantar TNS F2F Omnibus Research polling for Age UK, Nov-Dec 2018 – sample of 1917 people aged 65+ in the UK. Figures extrapolated to national population using NRS population estimates.
[ii]Age UK’s latest analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) Wave 8. Figures extrapolated by Age UK to national population using ONS Population Estimates 2017.
[iii]Age UK’s latest analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) Wave 8. Figures extrapolated by Age UK to national population using ONS Population Estimates 2017.
[iv]10 per cent of over-65s answered ‘Passers-by, e.g., dog-walkers’ when asked: Would you say that you ever rely on regular chats with any of the following to brighten your days? Kantar TNS F2F Omnibus Research polling for Age UK, Nov-Dec 2018 – sample of 1917 people aged 65+ in the UK. Figures extrapolated to national population using NRS Population Estimates.
[v]11 per cent, approx. 1,304,000 people aged 65+, answered ‘Local shop staff, e.g., coffee shop, newsagents’ when asked: Would you say that you ever rely on regular chats with any of the following to brighten your days? Kantar TNS F2F Omnibus Research polling for Age UK, Nov-Dec 2018 – sample of 1917 people aged 65+ in the UK. Figures extrapolated to national population using latest NRS Population Estimates.
[vi]10 per cent, approx. 1,204,000 people aged 65+, answered ‘Supermarket staff’ when asked: Would you say that you ever rely on regular chats with any of the following to brighten your days? Kantar TNS F2F Omnibus Research polling for Age UK, Nov-Dec 2018 – sample of 1917 people aged 65+ in the UK. Figures extrapolated to national population using latest NRS Population Estimates.
[vii]The number of people aged 50 and over in England who are often lonely is projected to be 2.03 million in 2025/26 compared with 1.36 million in 2016/17. These figures are in Table A4 of the technical report accompanying Age UK’s recent loneliness report, published in September 2018, and are rounded to one decimal place here. We calculate the percentage change as 2.03 minus 1.36, divided by 1.36 to give 49%. For more information please go to: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/reports-and-briefings/loneliness/loneliness-report.pdf