A new Age UK survey has found that over one million people aged 65 plus in the UK describe themselves as always or often feeling lonely in retirement, an increase on the figures last year, and two in five (41%) say that their TV or pet is now their main form of company. The research results are from the Loneliness Omnibus Survey for Age UK (April 2014), when 2,098 people aged 65 or over in the United Kingdom were interviewed.
The research findings indicate that loneliness is a huge issue that affects older people all year round with nearly a third (30%) of those surveyed saying they would like to go out more often. Age UK’s research also reveals that one in eight people (12%) aged over 65 are feeling cut off from society. It is suggested that loneliness can significantly contribute to speeding up declining health in older people and recent studies have indicated it has double the impact of obesity and that feeling extreme loneliness can increase an older person’s chances of premature death by 14%.
As most of us enjoy the Summer weather and longer days, many older people are feeling trapped indoors, isolated and alone. It is a prospect that those of us approaching retirement should seriously consider in our future life planning. Planning a safe financial future will stand for little if we become lonely.
One problem is that we may forget what will stop when we retire – a major access to social contact. Another is that we may not have thought too much about who we will have regular contact with and socialise with, after retirement. A circle of work colleagues and acquaintances can instantly shrink to a life of being an individual or in a couple. What will you plan to substitute for your work experiences and how much will this cost?