Tackle loneliness and social isolation
Tackling loneliness and social isolation should be a priority of the Scottish Government, embedding it across all departments and redoubling efforts to implement the national strategy “A Connected Scotland”.
It should ensure that policy decisions take account of how they will impact loneliness and social isolation and make a serious funding commitment to ensure that measures and services which connect people are supported for the long term.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic levels of loneliness and social isolation were staggeringly high among older people and we believed that it should be considered a public health crisis.
In Scotland, 200,000 older people will go at least half a week without seeing or hearing from anyone and 100,000 say they feel lonely all or most of the time.
Quite simply, loneliness kills.
It is as damaging to a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and increases the risk of an early death by a quarter. It can increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia as well as developing heart disease and stroke.
The events over the last year have compounded this problem and increased the levels of loneliness felt by people of all ages. Covid-19 has had a considerable impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the nation.
The next Scottish Government should:
• Treat tackling loneliness and social isolation as a national priority and include it as part of the national Covid-19 recovery plan
• Maintain ministerial responsibility for loneliness and social isolation and assess how new government policy impacts it
• Establish a national fund with significant investment to support measures which reduce levels of loneliness and help people make positive connections
Action for Older People: Our Election Asks for 2021
At this election Age Scotland’s focus is on how to help older people be as well as they can be, tackling loneliness and isolation and promoting a positive view of ageing.