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.
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.
5 ‘take home’ messages from the event:
- 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…
Download our full workshop report here
What do older men say about loneliness and isolation?
As part of their research with ILC UK, Independent Age conducted a series of interviews with older men about ageing, isolation and loneliness. Sue Arthur – Independent Age’s Policy and Research Manager – shared their voices at the workshop through quotes and recordings:
Older men can miss day-to-day contact: “I’d love to have a conversation. Because I don’t talk with anybody, when I get on the bus, I just start a conversation with people just to communicate with anybody… I miss contact”
It is important to have someone you can rely on: “Having someone you can always ring up when you feel down in the dumps, that’s very important”
Not all older men are lonely – or choose to make the best of their situation: “I’m very self-sufficient…I’ve come to the conclusion that you have to get used to it…and I’m very fortunate to have my mobility”
Loss of partners, friends and family makes it hard to stay connected: “I shall miss him like the dickens. A remarkable man, I shall never forget him. Unfortunately, whenever the bus goes out, it goes past his house”
Older men may become isolated after a decline in health: “I was rather more outgoing before [the fracture]. I used to go into town on the bus. I haven’t been for a long time, I’m not really capable now”