Almost a third of older men in England who have long-term health problems are lonely, according to an analysis by Age UK.
It reveals that 550,000 men over the age of 65 years in England are lonely and warns that demographic change in the coming years will see many more older men living alone. The number is set to rise by a massive 65% by 2030.
Evidence shows that older men who live alone are more likely to be lonely than their female counterparts and to have less regular contact with family and friends, exacerbating feelings of loneliness. The risk of loneliness and isolation appears to increase with age, and among those with long-term health problems and/or disability.
Age UK is calling for urgent action to tackle what is fast becoming a major public health challenge. Almost 90% of over-65s surveyed felt there should be more help available for lonely older people, with well over a quarter believing that ‘a simple visit once a week’ would help most people who feel lonely.
A further 15% believe that a local club or group, or getting to know their neighbours better, would most help.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: 'Loneliness is a widespread problem among older men, especially for those who are unwell, bereaved or who have seen family and friends move away. As more older men live longer we need to appreciate that the numbers who are chronically lonely are likely to increase too – unless we do something about it, which we can and we must do."
Mounting evidence shows that loneliness has a serious impact on our health—which in turn can lead to greater reliance on health and social care services.