Why men only?
In the report, loneliness is defined as a subjective perception in which a person feels lonely. Social isolation broadly refers to the absence of contact with other people.
A growing generation of older men is facing a future of increased isolation. Meanwhile, the number of older men aged 65+ living alone is projected to rise by 65% between now and 2030.
The number of older men living alone is expected to rise from 911,000 to 1.5 million by 2030.
Older men are more socially isolated than older women.
Older men have significantly less contact with their children, family and friends than older women.
The number of older men outliving their partners is expected to grow.
In a speech by Jeremy Hunt MP, he said, “…loneliness among older people is a national shame.”
In England, over 1.2 million men aged over 50 reported a moderate to high degree of social isolation. 710,000 men aged over 50 reported a high degree of loneliness.
Older men report significantly less social contact with children, family members and friends than older women. Almost 1 in 4 older men, 23%, have less than monthly contact with their children, and nearly 1 in 3, have less than monthly contact with other family members. For women the figures are 15% and 20% respectively. Also 1 in 3 older men without a partner are the most isolated, compared to over 1 in 5 women (37% v 23%).
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said:
“Our new research highlights the importance of social contact to older men. Poor physical and mental health is much more likely for the most socially isolated and lonely men. In terms of medical services, the evidence shows that older men are less likely to seek help or ask for support. And it’s already known that men are 30% more likely to die after being recently widowed.”
Age UK has reported that if loneliness is not tackled, by 2026 there will be over 2 million people aged 50+ years in England who will often feel lonely.
Authors of a report to the Big Lottery Fund said, “…it is important that we are specifically targeting men; consulting with men as the target group about what they want and need; having ‘hooks’ to encourage initial engagement; building individual relationships; and tailoring the service towards a range of needs.”
Age UK, in All the lonely people: Loneliness in later life, said, “Engaging in dialogue about loneliness with an older person should be based on the core principles of empathy; congruence; warmth; and respect. In line with this, Age UK has suggested that an essential component for success with engaging older people in social activities is to complement them with emotional and practical support.”
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