In October 2014, the Campaign to End Loneliness and Independent Age hosted a workshop to explore how charities and councils can best reach and engage older men at risk of loneliness.
There are 6.8 million men aged 60 and over living in the UK today. This is projected to reach 9.6 million by 2030. The experience of these men will be very different to that of their fathers: more married men will outlive their wives, the nature of retirement will not be as clear cut, and – for the first time – greater numbers of older men will become informal carers than women.
Our workshop was based around some fascinating new research from the charity Independent Age and the think-tank International Longevity Centre that examined the prevalence of loneliness and isolation among older men, and the potential reasons and causes behind this. We strongly recommend reading their joint report, which can be downloaded here.
We wanted to talk about what older men say about loneliness and isolation, how to design services that meet the needs and interests of older men and how to best promote available activities or support.
Although not an easy task, we’ve come up with 5 main recommendations from the research and group discussions for anyone looking to support older men at risk of loneliness:
- Male-only activities and support can build confidence and can act as a ‘bridge’ into a range of other (mixed) services and friendship groups
- Older men may prefer more practical and purposeful activities, which may be based on shared interests like sport or have links to the workplace
- No man wants to go to the “Lonely Men’s Club” – we should make activities aspirational and this may mean not talking about loneliness or mental health
- Establish whether you want to tackle isolation or loneliness: men experience these issues in a different way to women and for different reasons
- Some stereotypes can be useful when designing services for older men, but they are not a homogenous group and not everyone wants to go to the pub…
You can read a short workshop report – that covers our presentations, case studies and group discussion in more depth – here
You can also learn more about what organisations are doing to prevent or alleviate loneliness of older men on our Learning Network webpage