New Minister for Loneliness is a Positive Step in Fighting Loneliness

We welcome the Government announcement yesterday[i] that a new minister for loneliness Tracey Crouch MP has been appointed.

Tracey Crouch will continue the work started by the late MP Jo Cox to tackle loneliness, an issue which is affecting nine million in the UK, young and old. A report by the Jo Cox from the Loneliness Commission[ii] highlighted that loneliness can reduce life expectancy and be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Older people especially are vulnerable to loneliness, as many live alone and can spend weeks without seeing another person or having any social interaction.

Age UK[iii] estimates 32% of people aged 65+ and over live alone – about 3.64 million people across the UK. The number of people aged 65+ is projected to rise by over 40 per cent (40.77%) in the next 17 years to over 16 million, and by 2030 it’s expected the number of people aged 75 and over will double.

Whilst it’s not just older people that are affected by loneliness, they are the group that can find it the most difficult. They may have lost a long-life partner and can have difficulty adapting to living alone or have restricted mobility which can make it harder for them to get out and access places to socialise and meet people.

A Demos report[iv] last year in conjunction with retirement house builder, McCarthy & Stone, found that those who live in retirement housing tend to feel less lonely than their peers in mainstream housing.

We agree. We have helped many older people, who have suddenly found themselves alone, to make the move into retirement housing because of the social benefits and ready-made communities on offer.

Our tenants tell us that one of the main benefits of living in a retirement development is that they can live independently, whilst surrounded by neighbours of a similar age, plus there are plenty of social activities going on should they want to join in.

Whilst it won’t cure all loneliness, living in a community and enjoying companionship and being sociable can certainly improve people’s enjoyment of life as they get older.

[i] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42708507

[ii] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42354807

[iii] https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/later_life_uk_factsheet.pdf?dtrk=true

[iv] https://www.demos.co.uk/press-release/designing-housing-to-build-companionship/

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