Reducing the social isolation of older people

“Loneliness is a major health issue. An effective measure of isolation and loneliness is an important step to improving the lives of the hundreds of thousands of older people who are chronically lonely. This national measure can only help those making local health and care decisions to prioritise loneliness as a health issue, and one that they will tackle.”

Laura Ferguson, Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness

The Government has asked local authorities to identify areas where older people suffer most acutely from loneliness to allow them to tackle the growing problem of social isolation and its harmful effects.

The new measure of social isolation, launched as part of the updated Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework for 2013/14, is part of a package of plans to address the challenges of caring for an ageing population.

As a result of this new measure, local authorities will be able to compare data about how lonely or isolated the people in their area report to be. This information will help them identify how serious the problem is in their communities and what action is needed to tackle it.

The loneliness toolkit for health and wellbeing boards explains Why loneliness matters, How you can respond and the Latest from the Campaign to End Loneliness.

Watch the video below in which Laura Ferguson, Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, explains the importance of boards addressing the needs of their elderly and socially isolated local communities and what measures have been taken so far.

Research shows a clear realtionship between social isolation and ill health:

  • more than half of those over the age of 75 live alone – with about one in ten suffers ‘intense’ loneliness;
  • half of older people – more than five million – say that the television is their main company;
  • 17 per cent of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week, and 11% are in contact less than once a month;
  • socially isolated and lonely adults are also more likely to undergo early admission into residential or nursing care.