It saddens me greatly that so many people experience loneliness every day.
Loneliness is seen by many as one of the largest health concerns we face. Why? Here are some of the facts about the impact loneliness is having on the health of our nation.
- Loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)
- Loneliness is worse for you than obesity. (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)
- Lonely people are more likely to suffer from dementia, heart disease and depression. (Valtorta et al, 2016) (James et al, 2011) (Cacioppo et al, 2006)
- Loneliness is likely to increase your risk of death by 29% (Holt-Lunstad, 2015)
Loneliness and older people
- The number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6. This compares to around 1.4 million in 2016/7 – a 49% increase in 10 years (Age UK 2018, All The Lonely People)
- There are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK (Age UK 2016, No-one should have no one).
- Half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all (Age UK 2016, No-one should have no one).
- Over half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over live alone (Office for National Statistics 2010. General Lifestyle Survey 2008).
- Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company (Age, U.K., 2014. Evidence Review: Loneliness in Later Life. London: Age UK).
- There are over 2.2 million people aged 75 and over living alone in Great Britain, an increase of almost a quarter (24%) over the past 20 years (ONS).
Loneliness and people of all ages
- A study by The Co-op and the British Red Cross reveals over 9 million people in the UK across all adult ages – more than the population of London – are either always or often lonely.
- Research commissioned by Eden Project initiative The Big Lunch found that disconnected communities could be costing the UK economy £32 billion every year.
Loneliness and families
- A survey by Action for Children found that 43% of 17 – 25 year olds who used their service had experienced problems with loneliness, and that of this same group less than half said they felt loved.
- Action for Children have also reported 24% of parents surveyed said they were always or often lonely.
Loneliness and disabled people
- Research by Sense has shown that up to 50% of disabled people will be lonely on any given day.
As a civilised society we must start tackling loneliness. Let’s start now by being more neighbourly, inviting people into our social circles and looking for new ways to involve lonely people in community activities.
Imagine what a better place it would be if we all helped one person overcome loneliness!