A recent survey from the Guardian on the ageing population has found that 60% of respondents worried about loneliness in later life. The online survey had 1250 participants which included carers, professionals working with older people and older people themselves.
The survey found that half of respondents felt that the outlook for older people had got worse in the last year alone, and two-thirds believed that in the next 20 years it would get worse. Three-quarters thought older people would also be worse off financially in that time. 86% recognised the strain on the NHS, whilst 92% didn’t feel that social care was adequately funded.
An overwhelming 92% of respondents didn’t feel that older people’s skills, knowledge and experience were respected and valued by society.
Andrew Kaye, head of policy and campaigns at Independent Age, said the positive was that the survey didn’t show a generational divide. “The reality is older people care about their grandchildren and things like making sure they get on the housing ladder, just as younger people care about grandparents, whether they will get dementia and how they will be cared for. Young versus old doesn’t help anyone.”
Age UK campaigns such as Vote Later Life stand up for the rights of older people. The campaign aims to push the next UK Government to act on issues affecting older people, for today and tomorrow. The charity has found that 1 million older people may not have spoken to anyone for one month. With the number of over-85s set to double by 2030, it is essential that the next Government plans for a population that lives longer than previous generations.
Age UK’s previous successful campaigns include Spread the Warmth, which encouraged people to knit a warm home and also little hats to sit on top of Innocent Smoothies. Both of these campaigns raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for Age UK.
It has been proven that loneliness is as big a risk to health as alcohol consumption or smoking. That’s why Friends of the Elderly launched their Be A Friend campaign. The aim is simple: look out for the older people in your life and be a friend. Even if it’s just taking a couple of minutes out of your day, no matter how small the gesture, it can be a lifeline to a lonely older neighbour. There are even some tips on how you can get started if you’re unsure.
Campaigns such as this are invaluable in helping to tackle loneliness and improving the lives of older people. Let’s hope more is done by the Government and the community as a whole to improve the lives of older people and produce a more positive survey result in years to come.