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14 August 2014

Loneliness in the UK

Loneliness in the UK

The extent of loneliness in the UK

The number of hours we spend socially interacting in person has fallen dramatically in the last 25 years. The number of people living in one person households has increased dramatically from 17 per cent  in 1971 to 29 per cent in 2013, thats 7.7 million people.  Figures published in 2013 by the ONS show that  those who live alone (29 per cent saying they feel lonely some or most of the time) or who have been widowed (63 per cent saying they feel lonely some or most of the time) or whose poor health/disability affects their normal daily living activities are most likely to report feeling lonely (45 per cent saying the feel lonely some or most of the time) .
sources: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7898510.stm and Measuring National Well-being  - Older people and loneliness, 2013. Office for National Statistics.
and Families and Housholds 2013 Office for National Statistics.

In research commissioned by Relate and Realtionships Scotland in 2014, 42 per cent of those polled said they did not count any of the colleagues at work as friends. Overall one in ten said they did not have a single close friend ( if taken as a proportion tof the total population that 4.7. million people) and 19 per cent said that in the 2 weeks preceeding the survey they had never or rarely felt loved.
http://www.relate.org.uk/blog/2014/8/12/4-5-are-happy-couples-1-10-have-no-close-friends-our-new-study-lifts-lid-uks-relationships

In 2010 the Mental Health Foundation conducted research on the topic of loneliness in society today. As part of the research project Opinion Research LLP was asked to survey a representative sample of adults. Below is a summary of some of their findings.

How Often Do You feel Lonely?

 

Total

Age 18-34 Yrs

Age 35-54 yrs

Age 55yrs+

Often

11%

12%

11%

9%

Sometimes

34%

45%

35%

26%

Rarely

33%

31%

32%

36%

Never

22%

13%

22%

29%

 

Have you ever felt depressed because you felt alone?

 

Total

Age 18-34 Yrs

Age 35-54 yrs

Age 55yrs+

Yes

42%

53%

43%

32%

No

55%

44%

54%

66%

Don't Know

3%

4%

4%

2%

 

Have you ever experienced depression or anxiety?

 

Total

Age 18-34 Yrs

Age 35-54 yrs

Age 55yrs+

Yes

56%

55%

61%

53%

No

39%

38%

35%

44%

Don't know

5%

7%

4%

3%

 

Thinking about when you experienced depression or anxiety… Did it result in you isolating yourself from family and friends?

 

Total

Age 18-34 Yrs

Age 35-54 yrs

Age 55yrs+

Yes

57%

64%

65%

42%

No

40%

31%

33%

54%

Don't know

3%

5%

2%

4%

 

How strongly do you agree/disagree with the following statement… I worry about feeling lonely.

 

Total

Age 18-34 Yrs

Age 35-54 yrs

Age 55yrs+

Strongly agree

6%

10%

7%

3%

Agree

18%

26%

16%

14%

Neither

23%

23%

23%

22%

Disagree

24%

24%

24%

24%

Strongly disagree

26%

15%

27%

35%

Don't know

2%

2%

2%

1%

Source The Lonely Society. Mental Health Foundation 2010.
www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/loneliness-and-mental-health/

Loneliness and the elderly

Research condcuted by Com Res for The Silver Line in November 2013 indicate that up to 2.5 million older people suffer from loneliness.
https://www.thesilverline.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/The-Silver-Line-Loneliness-Survey-FULL-FINDINGS-1.pdf

Research carried out by WRVS in 2012 for The Times found that a third of all over 75s usually spend more than 12 hours a day on their own every day. One in 10 of the over 75s say they feel "intensely lonely all of the time."
Source The Times online accessed 30th Nov 2012 http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/timesappeal/article3614770.ece

In additional research conducted by WRVS and published in July 2012 they found:

  • 13 per cent of older people don’t get out and about in their communities because they are unable to leave the house due to ill health; and 15 per cent cited having no one to accompany them and that they don’t like to go out alone.
  • As a result of feeling lonely 17 per cent of those surveyed said that they had lost touch with friends and 46 per cent said that they don’t go out as much; 26 per cent reported giving up on their hobbies because of feeling lonely.
  •  21 per cent of those who are lonely agreed that they don’t leave the house for days, nine per cent that they no longer eat properly.
  • One in eight older people who are lonely said they worry about their mental health because they have no-one to talk to.

Source http://www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/news-and-events/news/loneliness-rife-among-older-men

In a survey of various loneliness research reports the Campaign to End Loneliness found:

  • An estimated 1 million people over 65 who are always lonely
  • half of all older people (about 5 million) say the television is their main company
  • 17% of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week and 11% are in contact less than once a month
  • 36% of people aged 65 and over in the UK feel out of touch with the pace of modern life and 9% say they feel cut off from society.
    Source http://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org.uk/information-on-loneliness/loneliness-research/

Loneliness and health

The Campaign to End Loneliness surveyed 1,000 GP's in 2013 looking at the impact loneliness has their patients health. They discovered that 75% of doctors said they see up to 5 patients a day whose main reason for visiting their doctor was loneliness. 10 per cent of doctors said they see between six and 10 patients each day who say they are lonely. Four percent of doctors said they see more than 10 patients per day who are lonely. http://eauk.co/1k1PLm4
In other research reported by the Campaign to End Loneliness it was found that loneliness has an adverse effect on both physical and mental health with lonely people being more at risk of high blood pressure, early onset of cognitive decline and dementia and depression. http://eauk.co/1bdhtqB