WGPlus (Archive)

Life is what you make of it mostly

We shouldn’t fear a lonely old age because loneliness is far from inevitable, according to a study funded by the ESRC.  Using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), Professor Christina Victor’s research suggests only 10% of people over 50 complain of significant loneliness – a figure which has remained unchanged since the 1940s.

One of the major stereotypes prevalent in our society is that old age is almost guaranteed to be a time of loneliness,” suggests Professor Victor, from Brunel University London.  “Interestingly our findings indicate this ‘lonely’ group is made up of three distinct sub-groups.

“For half of them loneliness appears to have been established for at least ten years and is, we suspect, possibly a lifelong experience. Then we have ‘lonely’ people who are moving into loneliness (possibly due to a bereavement) and those moving out of loneliness (perhaps because they have adjusted to changed circumstances).  Crucially, lonely people are not a heterogeneous group.”

… “One of our most interesting findings is that expectations of loneliness are strongly associated with loneliness outcomes,” she explains.   “In other words, loneliness is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy: those who believed that loneliness was a normal part of ageing, were more likely experience loneliness as they grew older.”  And while pets do not necessarily protect against loneliness, strong social networks certainly do.

Researched Links:

ESRC:  Fears of loneliness in old age are largely unfounded

NICE guidelines for promoting independence & mental wellbeing for older people

Campaign to End Loneliness

People need people

Age UK:  Loneliness among older men with poor health a growing problem

How arts & cultural projects are proving life doesn’t end when Dementia begins

£9.5m to design new solutions for the UK’s ageing population

Funding to pilot new way of supporting Suffolk's rural groups

BHF:  Study links loneliness and heart disease

LGA:  Councils respond to report on loneliness & isolation

Homeshare opens new doors to independent living for older & younger people

NICE:  Membership of social groups after retirement ‘boosts health & wellbeing’

ScotGov:  Tackling loneliness

New research finds arts and culture helps combat loneliness among old people

Sporting memories charity kicks off new year with vital funding

LGA:  Councils & charities find innovative ways to tackle loneliness this Christmas

Britain must do more to tackle ‘virus of social isolation’ says EHRC

Most people in the UK are less lonely – apart from men with low qualifications

Demos:  An Invisible Failing - Veterans Need Targeted Support to Rehabilitate & Fulfil their Potential

Breaking the mould of loneliness – Paula Bee

1,400 digital champions to bring the benefits of being online to thousands

NICE:  New advice on mental wellbeing of older people in care homes marks bold step forward

Kris Hopkins sees cutting edge homes for older people in Milton Keynes

Advocacy champions older people affected by cancer

Compassion & empowerment for older people in England

PX:  Internet training would cut pensioner loneliness

PX:  Technology Manifesto

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