More than a third of over-75s in Britain say their feelings of loneliness are out of control, according to a new survey by older people’s charity Independent Age.
That equates to more than 1.8 million people, prompting the charity to launch a new free advice guide entitled “If you’re feeling lonely: How to stay connected in older age”. Copies of the guide can be downloaded by clicking here.
Focusing on people aged 75 and over, the survey found almost a third (32%) would expect feelings of loneliness to last for a long time, while almost one in four (23%) worried about how often they felt lonely.
People taking part in the survey were also asked to list the top three things which triggered their feelings of loneliness. For over-75s, the top two were being reminded of someone they miss (51%), and being on their own for special occasions such as Christmas and birthdays (39%). Sharing third place was seeing other people socializing with family and friends, of staying at home due to health issues (both at 27%).
Other findings from the survey included:
· Around one in seven (15%) older people say they don’t know what steps to take to help them feel better when they are lonely
· More than two-fifths (41%) of over-75s say they feel lonelier now than they did when they were younger
· Around 4% of over-75s say their main source of social conversations is with people who call at the house, such as the milkman, postman or gas man.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, there are more than two million people aged 75 and over who are living alone in Great Britain. Not surprisingly, living alone is the main cause of loneliness, though many older couples also experience loneliness, especially if one is the main carer for the other.
Commenting on the survey, Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, said: “People of all ages feel lonely sometimes, but becoming older shouldn’t inevitably mean that you will be lonely.
“It’s sad to see that so many older people don’t expect feelings of loneliness to go away and think these feelings are out of their control. By taking small steps and changing one thing at a time, it’s possible to reduce your feelings of loneliness. The new ‘If you’re feeling lonely’ guide from Independent Age gives you practical advice about what you can do to help you feel less lonely.”
The free guide is designed to help people recognise why they might feel lonely and sets out simple steps they can take to reduce loneliness. It demonstrates that feelings of loneliness need not be out of control or last indefinitely, and includes advice based on what older people have said works for them during calls or visits from the charity.
The 36-page guide also has tips and advice on many issues, including overcoming practical barriers which lead to loneliness, finding ways to stay in touch, trying something new and learning to be alone without feeling lonely. Copies can be downloaded by clicking here or by calling free on 0800 319 6789.
For more about Independent Age, the charity offering a wide range of advice and support for older people across the UK, visit its website here.