More than 80,000 Scots aged 65+ often feel lonely

Age Scotland

Over a million older people in the UK regularly feel lonely

A new survey has found that more than 80,000 people aged 65 plus in Scotland describe themselves as often or always feel lonely. Across the UK as a whole the figure is more than a million.

Loneliness is a huge issue which affects people all year round. The survey results, from Age Scotland’s sister charity Age UK, reveal that around two in five (39% or about 350,000) older people in Scotland say their TV is now their main form of company.

The research also shows that around one in six (16%) of those aged 65 plus in Scotland are feeling cut off from society, with a quarter (about 230,000) saying they would like to get out more. Loneliness can be seriously damaging and recent studies have shown it has double the impact of obesity and that feeling extreme loneliness can increase an older person’s chances of premature death by 14 per cent.

Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said: “At Age Scotland we know how devastating loneliness can be for older people and these figures remind us of the scale of this issue. Loneliness has serious health implications – both on mental and physical health making people more vulnerable to illness and disease.

“Via our helpline – Silver Line Scotland – we hear from individuals who no longer feel valued, or who have lost their confidence and feel trapped in their homes. It’s a telling indictment on our society that people can lose all feeling of self-worth. And while working on our Still Waiting campaign around community transport, we heard from one lady who said she had spent 2012 in her home, waiting to die, because she couldn’t get out.

“Our older people are a national treasure and add a tremendous amount to our communities, via volunteering, family support and through the knowledge and experiences they have gained over their lifetime. Nobody should feel they no longer have a meaningful role in the world; we all can and must do more.”

Age Scotland supports around 850 member groups around Scotland which provide a range of services supporting older people, from Men’s Sheds to lunch clubs and befriending services, many of which are aimed at tackling loneliness and isolation.

Silver Line Scotland is a 24-hour helpline for older people and their families across Scotland, delivered in partnership with The Silver Line helpline and Age Scotland. It is open all day, every day and accessed via a freephone number – 0800 4 70 80 90.

“The lady was the first person I had spoken to properly in seven weeks,” a Silver Line Scotland caller.

“There, I’ve talked myself into feeling better, but I couldn’t have done it without you on the end of the phone,” a Silver Line Scotland caller.

“Thank you for my call, it makes me feel so special and cared about,” a Silver Line Scotland caller.

Via Age Scotland’s Still Waiting campaign, the Charity has been calling on the Scottish Government to ensure a financially stable future for community transport services in Scotland, which are vital to preventing people who are unable to access mainstream bus services from becoming isolated. To find out more visit www.agescotland.org.uk/stillwaiting

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