Last month, a survey conducted by Yours magazine asked whether people living in the United Kingdom had lost “the art of making friends”. The answer, they concluded, was probably yes. Six out of 10 respondents aged over 50 said they felt lonely, with the average individual spending half the week on their own. This rose to five days a week for those aged over 80.
But how accurate are these findings?
Loneliness is a very individual state, a feeling of dissatisfaction with the quantity or quality of social relationships or contact. It is therefore difficult to map and measure. A review conducted by Professor Christina Victor showed that a fairly consistent per cent of the general population over 65 are lonely, roughly 6-13%. (You can how she came to this conclusion here)
But as the population ages, this means more people will be suffering from loneliness. We must also remember that the generations approaching ‘old age’ are increasingly diverse and have many factors that impact on loneliness – be that because of health, place of birth or complex relationship histories.
So the Yours survey might not quite tally with the academic studies. But it raises some important things to think about – how satisfied are we with our social connections? What could we do to prevent loneliness as we reach retirement, for example?
This Campaign to End Loneliness Blog will look at the issues surrounding and contributing to loneliness, ideas about what can be done to combat it. We hope to share stories and case studies from both professionals and individuals to inspire our supporters, and to kick-start debate about this incredibly important issue.
So please get in touch if you have anything you would like to share! You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.