Age UK has reported there are 3.6 million older people in the UK who live alone; 2 million of these people are aged 75 years and over. Loneliness can begin following the loss of a significant partner or changes to health meaning someone won’t socialise with others as much as they once did. Living alone can lead to isolation, and as there can be a stigma surrounding loneliness, some older people will find it difficult to reach out for support.
It’s estimated 1.9 million older people have said they often feel ignored or invisible. Around 3.9 million older people have said the television is their main company, with 17% saying they are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week, whilst 11% reported the contact was less than a month.
Loneliness can have a massive effect on both physical health and mental health. Experts have stated loneliness can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It can increase the likelihood of mortality by 26%.
Loneliness has been associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease and suffering from a stroke, along with high blood pressure and onset disability. In mental health, studies have shown there is a greater risk of cognitive decline, with a 64% increased chance of developing clinical dementia. Those who are lonely are more likely to suffer from depression, and low social interaction can lead to suicide in older age.
No one should feel lonely. Throughout December, we are combating elderly loneliness with a campaign filled with information and advice on loneliness and how we can support local people.
At Heritage Healthcare, we support individuals to continue living independently in the comfort of their own home for longer. Some of our clients live alone, so our dedicated care team are there to be a friendly face who they can trust. Other than personal care, household help, respite and dementia care, we also provide companionship for our clients. Our team can help clients get out and about in the community, visit family and friends, attend local activities or just enjoy a cup of tea and a chat.