Loneliness and the elderly

By Lara Murrell

Loneliness in the UK is a serious problem. Statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that one in 10 people aged 65 or over feel lonely often or always. According to the Campaign to End Loneliness there are 800,000 people in England who are chronically lonely and that more than 75 per cent of GPs they polled believe up to one in 10 of the patients they see in a day are really attending surgery because they are lonely.

Friends of the Elderly estimate that 450,000 older people are likely to spend Christmas Day alone. However, the most shocking statistic is that half of all older people consider the television to be their main form of company, a fact also picked up by health secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier this year in a speech at the National Children and Adults Services conference.

Loneliness is not just an emotional experience but has also been shown to have a detrimental effect on a person’s health. Loneliness can affect an individual’s mental health through feeling low and depressed as well as affecting their personal health through a lack of motivation to be physically active and to eat a healthy and balanced diet…

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