Money can’t buy love and millions of over 50s are lonely despite their wealth, argues a new study.
Loneliness is described as a disconnect between the life someone has and the one they would like, suggests the report All the Lonely People: Loneliness in Later Lifefrom charity Age UK.
Feelings of loneliness start when someone loses a partner in a significant relationship, are in poor health or live somewhere where they feel they do not fit in.
The study found that the number of over 50s reporting that they are lonely has stayed constant for almost a decade and is expected to hit around 2 million people by 2026.
Age increases feelings of loneliness
Loneliness is not exclusive to the over 50s, but the research found that the factors leading to the feeling increase with age, making the over 50s more liable to be lonely than younger people.
Age UK says communities and organisations need to develop personal strategies for lonely people as the factors contributing to the feeling are different for each person.
“People in the community need to recognise that people are lonely, to signpost them to trained people who can then work with them to understand the causes of their feelings of loneliness and together develop actions to cope with or resolve these,” says the study.
“Organisations, activities and support need to be available for people who are lonely, and those supporting lonely people need to be aware of and be able to access these.”
Tackling the problem
The research revealed people are more than five times likely to be lonely if they live alone and four times more likely if they are in poor health.
Money issues also add to feelings of loneliness if someone cannot afford to live the life they want.
“Tackling loneliness is about building communities with the social and physical infrastructure that can help build resilience; ensuring widespread awareness of and access to organisations, activities and support; creating neighbourhoods that are welcoming and feel safe; enabling people to identify, work with and develop tailored support for lonely individuals. Social activities are a part of this, yet alone they are insufficient,” says the report.