A GROWING number of older men are facing increased isolation, a new report has revealed.
The number of men aged over 65 and living alone is projected to rise by 65 per cent to 1.5m between now and 2030, according to research out today by Independent Age and the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC-UK).
Older men are more socially isolated than older women and have significantly less contact with their children, family, and friends, researchers found. And the problem is set to get worse, with the number of older men outliving their partners expected to rise.
The Yorkshire Post launched its Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign in February after revealing how it affects 91,300 older people in the region. The new report calls on older men to take steps to prevent isolation and loneliness – which can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day – and recommends the Government, charities and service providers better address the needs of older men.
Independent Age’s chief executive, Janet Morrison, said: “It’s alarming to think there are growing numbers of lonely older men who may be facing a future alone and without proper support.”
She said men rely heavily on their partners to remain socially connected, and their social lives “shrink” when a partner dies. More research was needed for services to keep older men socially active, she added.
“Sometimes services such as lunch clubs and coffee mornings while providing a very valuable function, may be designed with the social preferences of women in mind rather than the purposeful activity that men may prefer,” she said.
“We also want the government to follow up on their promise and develop a new measure to capture the extent of loneliness across the population as a whole.”
Baroness Sally Greengross, chief executive of ILC-UK, said health services and GPs could play an important role in identifying patients at risk of loneliness. Professional bodies should also consider how they can help members of their staff keep connected after retirement.
She said: “Too many older men continue to experience social isolation and loneliness in later life. While we should encourage men to plan better for retirement, we must also accept that many of our services simply don’t work for men.”