Older People and Loneliness

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2018 National Retired Members Conference
30 May 2018
Carried as Amended

This conference calls on the National Retired Members’ Committee (NRMC) and requests the National Executive Council (NEC) to liaise with other agencies to raise awareness of loneliness and its affects in particular, on older people.

Loneliness often comes about as a result of the lack of transport in rural areas together with the lack of postal services, libraries, shopping and banking facilities plus, in some cases, family support is not available for whatever reason. These factors greatly affect the health and well- being of the elderly.

A survey done by a national charity indicates that

1)17% of older people are in contact with friends, family and neighbours less than once a week and 11% are in contact less than once a month.

2) Over half (51%) of all people over 75 live alone.

3)Two fifths of all older people (about 3.9 million) say that television is their main company

4)63% of adults have been widowed and report feeling lonely often.

Loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience. Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our mental and physical health: lacking social connections is as comparable a risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and lack of physical activity. Loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by a staggering 26%.

Furthermore being lonely can quickly lead to loss of self confidence and this can quickly increase the level of loneliness that is felt due to becoming less inclined to venture out. Thus, probably, increasing a person’s isolation and the onset of depression. Once depression takes hold it has devastating affects both physically and mentally.

We need to combat this situation and should use every power at UNISON’s disposal to do so.