Year-round support needed as study reveals loneliness worse in summertime

A CHARITY is calling for more support for older people all year round after new research indicated that the elderly are more at risk of suffering loneliness in the summer than at Christmas.

New research found elderly people are more likely to be lonely in the summer than at Christmas. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The study, from Brunel University, contracted the widely-held belief that loneliness is more widespread during the festive period. The Campaign to End Loneliness, partners in the Yorkshire Post’s Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign said older people may be at less risk of feeling lonely at Christmas due to the “tremendous” increase in support during the holiday season.

Professor Christina Victor, who led the research, said: “By highlighting the high levels of loneliness among older people in the summer months we have ‘busted the myth’ that loneliness is just a problem at Christmas. 
“Our study shows how important it is to conduct research into the experience of loneliness in later life so that we develop evidence-based interventions against loneliness and not base services on myths and stereotypes.”

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Some 91,300 people who live alone across Yorkshire and Humber admit to feeling lonely all or most of the time.

Laura Ferguson, director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, said the efforts from charities, volunteers, friends and family to support older people make a “huge difference” in tackling loneliness during the holiday, but it was vital this support was maintain all year round.

“Research shows that loneliness damages the health of older people, with an increased risk of high blood pressure, dementia, and depression. If the Government and health professionals do not act to prevent older people from being lonely, we are going to see the consequences in our hospitals and social care services all year round,” she added.