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A study suggests that older people living in England and suffering from poor health are more at risk of feeling lonely than those with excellent health. 59 percent of people over the age of 52 noted feelings of loneliness, in comparison to just 21 percent of those with good health, when questioned in a survey. The results which were analysed were those collated by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, in which 8,000 people were interviewed at two-yearly intervals from 2002 to present. The charity Age UK stated that the local authority cuts had worsened the problem in recent years. Combining this with other factors such as higher risks of illness and less of a social network has meant that many older people feel alone.
Those questioned who had been suffering with long-standing illnesses which affected their social lives and activities stated that they often felt lonely, compared to just 27 percent of people who had not suffered with the condition. In particular, over 80s were more at risk of feelings of loneliness due to a higher risk of disability or illness, as well as shrinking social networks due to retirement or bereavement. It seems that as we age, the feelings of loneliness become more prominent due to outside factors.
The cost of living for older people has become increasingly difficult over the years, meaning many people struggle. The Department of Health has stated that more importance needs to be placed on maintaining the dignity of older people. If you know someone who you believe is suffering from feelings of loneliness or depression, urge them to speak to their GP who may be able to advise ways to combat it. Local groups are also a great idea to help them to meet people and add more interaction in their social network, which may have dissipated over the years.