3 in 4 of over-50s say they are lonely

Daily Mail - - Life - By Vanessa Allen

BRI­TAIN’S older gen­er­a­tions are suf­fer­ing an ‘epi­demic of lone­li­ness’, with al­most three-quar­ters de­scrib­ing them­selves as lonely, a dis­turb­ing study re­vealed yes­ter­day.

Al­most two in five said en­tire days went by with­out them speak­ing to any­one, and nearly half said they had felt lonely for years.

Cam­paign­ers warned that many peo­ple – par­tic­u­larly pen­sion­ers – were suf­fer­ing in si­lence, as the ma­jor­ity had not told their fam­ily how they felt. Of those who re­ported be­ing lonely, 71 per cent thought their friends or fam­ily would be ‘sur­prised or as­ton­ished’ to hear it.

Be­reave­ment, poor health and liv­ing alone were all iden­ti­fied as causes of lone­li­ness, al­though many re­spon­dents said they had felt lonely af­ter re­tire­ment or af­ter their chil­dren left home.

And char­i­ties warned that clo­sures of banks, Post Of­fices, small shops and li­braries could also have a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on older peo­ple who re­lied on them for so­cial con­tact.

The re­sults of the sur­vey by so­cial me­dia site Gransnet, whose users have an av­er­age age of 62, were re­vealed as part of the Jo Cox Com­mis­sion on Lone­li­ness. The char­ity-backed com­mis­sion, set up by the Labour MP be­fore her mur­der last year, was launched by a cross-party group of MPs ear­lier this year, and calls on in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses to do more to tackle iso­la­tion amongst the el­derly.

Pre­vi­ous re­search has found lone­li­ness can be as dam­ag­ing to health as smok­ing 15 cig­a­rettes a day, with lonely peo­ple sig­nif­i­cantly more likely to visit their GP.

The sur­vey ques­tioned 1,014 over-50s about lone­li­ness in later life. It found that 73 per cent de­scribed them­selves as feel­ing lonely some or all of the time. Of those 56 per cent said they had never ad­mit­ted feel­ing lonely.

Forty-nine per cent said they had felt lonely for years and 59 per cent said they felt lone­lier now than when they were younger. Age UK has pre­vi­ously found that 1.2mil­lion older peo­ple in Bri­tain are chron­i­cally lonely, with half a mil­lion over-60s usu­ally spend­ing ev­ery day alone.

Tory MP Seema Kennedy, co-chair­man of the com­mis­sion, said: ‘Lone­li­ness is a silent epi­demic across the UK ... How we care and act for those around us could mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween an older per­son just cop­ing and them lov­ing and en­joy­ing later life.’

Seven in ten say their fam­ily have no idea

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