A new report highlights wide regional variations in the number of older people experiencing loneliness.
The south east emerged as one of the least lonely regions in the UK, with 81% of over 55s stating they had socialised often over the last year.
In contrast, London is highlighted as the UK’s loneliest region, with four out of five (87%) Londoners aged 55 and over admitting to often feeling lonely.
The south east region reported consistently highly for socialising, with 44% stating they had access to age-appropriate social events in the local area and 53% felt a strong sense of community in their neighbourhood, suggesting local communities and neighbours may play a larger role in encouraging socialising than family and friends.
The report, Building Companionship: how better design can combat loneliness in later life, has been compiled by cross-party think tank Demos and commissioned by retirement housebuilder, McCarthy and Stone to better understand how loneliness among older people can be tackled.
Loneliness is a growing concern in the UK with more than a million older people admitting to consistently feeling lonely, with those over 80 almost twice as likely to report feeling lonely in comparison to their younger counterparts.
The report highlighted evidence showing how loneliness can have a declining effect on a person’s health, with people who say they feel lonely more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and depression, and are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease in later life in comparison to those with stronger social relationships.
Clive Fenton, chief executive officer of McCarthy & Stone, said: “We supported this report to explore the extent to which older people are less lonely in retirement housing, and whether lessons might be learned for wider aspects of housing policy, such as neighbourhood planning.
“Building more retirement housing is just one solution to combating loneliness. Developers and local and national government should review the recommendations in this report and consider adapting how we design neighbourhoods more generally.”
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