The good news is we’re all living longer. The bad news is we’re more likely to experience loneliness and isolation as we get older – and that can seriously affect our health.
And with around nine million Brits suffering from loneliness, Theresa May has appointed the UK's first minister of loneliness, in the hope to tackle the issue.
Why are older people more lonely?
According to The Campaign to End Loneliness, there are greater ‘risk factors’ for loneliness in older age, such as retirement, bereavement, hearing or sight loss, decreased mobility and lower incomes.
More than half of over-75s live alone, according to the Office for National Statistics, with almost five million people saying their main form of company is the TV.
By 2030, the number of people aged over 60 will rise to 24%. In the next 20 years, the population of those aged over 80 will treble and those over 90 will double, according to the Campaign.
How can you future-proof against loneliness?
Whether you’re six or 66, everyone can feel lonely at some point. And the emotion can last for a day, or could be much longer term.
So here's some advice for feeling healthy and happy:
1. Think about yourself
Think about what you would like more of – maybe time with friends or family, if so invite them to visit. Often if you are lonely you think people do not want to visit. This is understandable, but often people will respond to an invitation and will come and spend quality time with you.
2. Look after yourself
If you can do something to improve your health, take small steps to eat well, take gentle exercise and keep active, all of these things can help you to relax more fully in your own company.
3. Share your skills and time with others
You can offer time or specific skills by helping out in your street, neighbourhood or with local organisations. You could volunteer with the Royal Voluntary Service, Sense or Independent Age who support older people.
4. Your community and neighbourhood
Find out what local activities are being planned and book them up: walks, singing groups, book clubs and bridge. For example, Contact the Elderly and the University of the Third Age have a wide range of local social groups and activities across the UK.