For half a million elderly, it’s lonely life in Britain

London, Jan 6 (IANS) It’s lonely life for the elderly in Britain. Half a million people in the isles over the age of 60 usually spend each day alone, with no interaction with others, a poll said.

It also said that nearly half a million more commonly do not see or speak to anyone for five or six days a week, the Guardian reported on Friday.

Age UK, which commissioned the research, said the results highlighted a growing number of chronically lonely older people. This was placing increasing demand on Britain’s health services.

The charity has been running a pilot programme in eight areas where Age UK groups were actively trying to identify lonely older people and offer them companionship.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, said: “This new analysis shows that about a million older people in our country (Britain) are profoundly alone, many of whom are likely to be enduring the pain and suffering of loneliness.”

“That’s why the early results of our pilot programme into tackling loneliness in later life are so important: nine in 10 older people who were often lonely when they started the programme were less lonely six to 12 weeks later,” she said.

Many even said that they felt generally happier, more confident and more independent as a result, the poll showed.

“Unfortunately, there is no simple solution for loneliness, but our pilot programme shows we really can make a difference and provide crucial insights into how the problem can be successfully overcome,” Abrahams said.

The Age UK groups worked with local people such as hairdressers, shopkeepers and faith groups to help identify older people experiencing or at risk of loneliness.

They developed networks with professionals in voluntary and statutory services, such as community nurses, social workers and police community support officers, and others.

Age UK has also developed a loneliness heat-mapping tool, which assesses risk factors such as age, marital status and number of household members.

People identified as lonely by Age UK groups were provided with telephone support and short-term, face-to-face companionship.

The results of the poll would feed into Age UK’s submissions to the ‘commission on loneliness’, devised by late Labour MP Jo Cox, before she was murdered in 2016.

The research agency TNS polled British residents aged over 60, asking them how many days a week they usually spent alone with no visits or telephone calls.

Out of 2,241 people, 498 said they spent seven days on their own and 464 said five or six days.

The results were then extrapolated to reach the national figures.

–IANS

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