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Almost 4.5 million older people claim to have felt lonely during later life

By: Age UK
Published on 04 September 2019 05:00 PM

Cadbury Dairy Milk announces partnership with Age UK to help combat loneliness

  • 225,000 older people often go for a week without speaking to anyone
  • Over 6 million older people say just a few minutes of conversation makes a difference to their week
  • Over half a million of those who’ve been lonely claim it stops them going out and about in everyday life

AUGUST 2019: In a typical week almost 2.6 million people aged 65 and over speak to three or fewer people they know[i], with over 225,000 often going a week without speaking to anyone at all[ii]. New research revealed today by Cadbury Dairy Milk and Age UK illustrates the impact of loneliness with over half a million of those who’ve been lonely claiming it stops them going out and about in everyday life[iii] with almost 4.5 million older people claiming to have felt lonely during later life[iv].

That’s why Cadbury Dairy Milk is launching a new brand campaign Donate Your Words in support of Age UK. For the first time ever the UK’s number one chocolate brand will be removing the words from its iconic bars and ‘donating’ them to the Charity to help alleviate loneliness amongst older people. The limited edition bar will be sold in supermarkets nationwide with 30p from each bar going towards Age UK to help provide vital services and support when older people need it most.

The campaign will also encourage Brits to donate their words by pledging to reach out and have a chat with older people in their communities.

The survey found that simple, small gestures can play a part in helping to tackle loneliness with over 6 million older people claiming a few minutes of conversation would make a huge difference to their week[v]. According to the survey, some of the actions that would help older people feel more confident when outside the home are:

  1. Knowing their neighbours – 38%[vi]
  2. Someone smiling or saying hello when at bus stop/in a queue – 26%[vii]
  3. Neighbour stopping to say hello – 24%[viii]
  4. Someone asking how their day has gone – 21%[ix]

Laura Gray, Brand Manager at Mondelez said:We’re so proud to announce this partnership and to be supporting Age UK - it’s such an important charity that is really tackling the issue of loneliness. We are donating the words from our bars of Cadbury Dairy Milk and encouraging people up and down the country to donate theirs through small gestures that could really help change the lives of older people.”

When asked, 55% of 16-45 year olds surveyed claim they’re worried about growing lonely in older age and 64% believing it gets harder to hold onto relationships the older you get.

While 67% of those aged 16-45 admitted they would be likely to do something that could potentially help boost the confidence of an older person who felt lonely, the research revealed the top five issues stopping them helping someone who they think feels lonely:

  1. They’re worried the other person won't respond well (37%)
  2. They’re too shy (30%)
  3. They don’t know how to help (27%)
  4. Find it hard to tell if someone needs help (25%)
  5. Too busy (25%)

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Loneliness is a huge problem because retirement, bereavement & ill health mean many older people find they are spending a lot less time enjoying the company of others than they’d like.

“Loneliness can affect your health, your wellbeing and the way you see yourself - it can make you feel invisible and forgotten. Working with Cadbury Dairy Milk on this campaign could really help to raise even more awareness of the issue and encourage everybody to do their bit to help tackle it.

“A friendly “hello” or “how are you?” is something most of us take for granted – it’s just part of every day life, but these latest figures show that hundreds of thousands of older people in the UK will spend today and the rest of this week alone, with no one to share even a few simple words with. That’s why Age UK’s expert advice and support services are so crucial and help people in all sorts of ways, every day of the year.”

For more information about the Cadbury Dairy Milk Donate Your Words campaign visit www.ageuk.org.uk/donateyourwords  and pick up a bar in store today.


[i] Age UK calculation based on data from Kantar F2F Omnibus Research polling for Age UK, July 2019 (sample of 1896 people aged 65+ in Great Britain) and ONS mid-year 2018 population estimates (accessed 13th August 2019). 21.66% of people surveyed answered either ‘no one’ or ‘only one person’ or ‘2-3 people’ when asked: In a typical week, how many people (whom you know) do you normally chat to? The ONS estimate that there are 11,857,360 people aged 65 and over in Great Britain.The numberof people therefore aged 65 and over in Great Britain who speak to three or fewer people they know is estimated to be 2,568,550 (i.e. 21.66% multiplied by 11,857,360; differences in answer due to rounding of percentage figure).

[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 The data was collected from a representative sample of 5478 people aged 50 and older living in England in 2016-17 and estimates were scaled up to the English population aged 50 and older using Office for National Statistics mid-year population estimates for 2017. Age UK estimate that 2.2% of people in England aged 65 and older (approximately 225,500) do not live with a partner, and meet up with or speak on the phone with their children, family and friends less often than once a week.

[iii] Age UK calculation based on data from Kantar F2F Omnibus Research polling for Age UK, July 2019 (sample of 1896 people aged 65+ in Great Britain) and ONS mid-year 2018 population estimates (accessed 13th August 2019). 37.63% of people surveyed indicated that they had had periods in later life where they felt lonely. 11.81% of these people answered either ‘somewhat lacking in confidence’ or ‘Not confident or lacking in confidence’ when asked: Thinking about any times in your later life when you felt lonely, how did you feel about… getting out and about generally’? The ONS estimate that there are 11,857,360 people aged 65 and over in Great Britain. The number of people therefore aged 65 and over in Great Britain who when they have felt lonely have not had the confidence to get out and about is estimated to be 526,994 (i.e. 37.63% multiplied by 11.81% multiplied by 11,857,360; differences in answer due to rounding of percentage figure).

[iv] Age UK calculation based on data from Kantar F2F Omnibus Research polling for Age UK, July 2019 (sample of 1896 people aged 65+ in Great Britain) and ONS mid-year 2018 population estimates (accessed 13th August 2019). 37.63% of people surveyed answered either ‘rarely’ or ‘sometimes’ ‘often’ or ‘always’ when asked: Many of us have probably felt lonely at some point. Have you at any time, in your later life, had periods where you have felt lonely? The ONS estimate that there are 11,857,360 people aged 65 and over in Great Britain. The number of people therefore aged 65 and over in Great Britain who have felt lonely in later life is estimated to be 4,462,026 (i.e. 37.63% multiplied 11,857,360; differences in answer due to rounding of percentage figure).

[v] Age UK calculation based on data from Kantar F2F Omnibus Research polling for Age UK, July 2019 (sample of 1896 people aged 65+ in Great Britain) and ONS mid-year 2018 population estimates (accessed 13th August 2019). 53.84% of people surveyed either ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘slightly agreed” with the statement ‘Just a few minutes of conversation makes a difference to my week’. The ONS estimate that there are 11,857,360 people aged 65 and over in Great Britain. The number of people therefore aged 65 and over in Great Britain who claim that just a few minutes of conversation makes a difference to their week is estimated to be 6,383,811 (i.e. 53.84% multiplied 11,857,360; differences in answer due to rounding of percentage figure).

[vi] Data from Kantar F2F Omnibus Research polling for Age UK, July 2019 (sample of 1896 people aged 65+ in Great Britain). 37.71% of people surveyed answered ‘Knowing my neighbours’ when asked Which, if any, of the following would make you feel more confident when outside of your home?

[vii] Data from Kantar F2F Omnibus Research polling for Age UK, July 2019 (sample of 1896 people aged 65+ in Great Britain). 25,55% of people surveyed answered ‘Someone smiling or saying hello when we’re at a bus stop or in a queue’ when asked Which, if any, of the following would make you feel more confident when outside of your home?

[viii] Data from Kantar F2F Omnibus Research polling for Age UK, July 2019 (sample of 1896 people aged 65+ in Great Britain). 24.49% of people surveyed answered ‘A neighbour stopping to say hello when we’re both out and about’ when asked Which, if any, of the following would make you feel more confident when outside of your home?

[ix] Data from Kantar F2F Omnibus Research polling for Age UK, July 2019 (sample of 1896 people aged 65+ in Great Britain). 21.20% of people surveyed answered ‘Someone asking me how my day is going’ when asked Which, if any, of the following would make you feel more confident when outside of your home?

 

Notes to editor

About Age UK

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).

For more information

Contact the Age UK Media team on 020 3033 1430 (out of hours: 07071 243 243).

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Last updated: Sep 04 2019

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