Nearly Five million elderly people are lonely and they interact with family and friends much less than once a month, a survey has revealed. Nearly 50% of those over the age of 75 stay alone, and more than five million people just fall back on the TV for company.
Now, Health secretary, Jeremy Hunt has suggested some strategies to governments, asking councils to devise ways to provide some relief to the elderly.
In a first such effort, surveys will be sent to elderly people and their caretakers to find out if they feel lonely and isolated. They also plan to find out what services the senior lot will require. Councils can then work on providing services like day centers, meals on wheels etc.
Mr Hunt said: "Tackling loneliness, by giving people better care and improved services, is another step towards making the UK one of the best places to live in Europe for older people. I want the highest standards of treatment and care in our hospitals, in our care homes and in the community - and that means looking at whatever is needed to drive improvements. We need a measure of loneliness to shine a light on this problem and to know what we are dealing with. Once we have this solid evidence, local communities will have new tools to come up with the right, targeted solutions to the problem."
Research also points out that loneliness elevates the risk of heart disease, dementia and blood clots. They can also cause old people to become depressed and lose interest in life.