We have to ask ourselves how something like this can happen in our society. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard stories like Anne’s.
By all accounts, Anne was a friendly lady, in her 70s, who neighbours simply believed had moved away. We need to remember, any of us can become lonely – even those, who outwardly appear to be fine. Older people are particularly vulnerable, perhaps because of health issues, a loss of mobility or simply because as we age, we start to lose our circle of friends. But Anne’s case should be a warning of just how important it is for us all – local authorities, charities, friends, family and neighbours – to act together to take steps to help to reduce loneliness and to keep an eye on those around us.
If you are feeling lonely, or know someone who you think might be, don’t forget that we offer one-to-one befriending through our network of volunteers. We have also produced a free book, Wise Guide 3: Healthy, happy, connected,which is full of helpful tips and suggestions on how to enjoy your later years and do what you can to stay physically and socially active. This is available, free of charge and can be ordered through our website or by calling Freephone 0800 319 6611
However, if research by the Institute of Fiscal Studies this week is anything to go by, then we could begin to see a decline in loneliness because of shifts in death rates. It predicts that men’s longevity will rapidly catch up with that of women so that in ten years’ time, 38% of people aged over 85 will be living with a partner compared with 25% today. Widowhood is often the start of people feeling lonely and more than half of over 75s currently live alone.
Andrew Hood, a research economist at the thinktank said “The next decade or so will see a big fall in the proportion of older pensioners living alone. This is good news as people in couples are healthier, less lonely and have higher incomes.”