A million over-65s ‘still at risk of loneliness as UK lockdown eases’

From the Guardian

A review by 10 leading charities has found that a million people over 65 in the UK are likely to remain at risk of chronic loneliness despite the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Loneliness, social isolation and living alone are all associated with an increased risk of early death, the Older People’s Task and Finish Group has said.

The group, part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Tackling Loneliness Network, also says that so many support organisations closed for good during lockdown that millions of older people are continuing to suffer loneliness, depression and deteriorating physical health.

The network, co-chaired by Independent Age and the Alzheimer’s Society, has found that only 7% of 96 support organisations questioned have returned to normal service after the pandemic.

Almost three-quarters of older people questioned in the network’s survey said they had no or significantly less support from the charities they had relied on before the pandemic.

“For people who told us loneliness was not just a product of lockdowns and shielding, but a symptom of their every day life before the pandemic, the easing of restrictions is not a silver bullet,” said Deborah Alsina, the chief executive of Independent Age.

Some older people are coping well since restrictions began to lift, but the group found that a sizeable minority are finding life is just as tough as during lockdown.

“The extremely damaging side-effects of lockdown – long periods of isolation, a loss of routine and social interaction – have caused significant mental health as well as physical health deterioration for people with dementia, many of them just ‘giving up’ on life, fading away,” said Fiona Carragher, the director of research and influencing at the Alzheimer’s Society.

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