Loneliness: As bad for you as 15 cigarettes a day

Today, Age UK launches a new campaign asking the Government to take action to tackle loneliness. Senior Campaigns Officer, Samantha Kennedy, explains why loneliness is a health problem for older people and how you can support the campaign.

Age UK Homepage No One Betty

No one should have no one, yet more than a million older people say they haven’t spoken to a friend, neighbour or family member for over a month.

The festive season is usually a time for celebration with those you love, but for too many older people it can reinforce feelings of loss, loneliness and of life passing them by. Our new research shows that for older people Christmas cheer often falls short: three fifths of people aged over 65 aren’t expecting festive happiness to be part of their Christmas this year.

As bad for you as 15 cigarettes a day

Contrary to what many people think, loneliness is not a normal part of ageing. It not only makes life miserable, it can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. And people who are very lonely are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, as people who are not lonely at all.

Because it undermines resilience, this means more pressure on our already stretched NHS and social care services.

What can be done?

We want government to understand that older people’s loneliness really matters. We want them to commit to take action with us to prevent and tackle loneliness by:

  • Finding out where older people at risk of loneliness are
  • Identifying what works best in preventing and tackling loneliness, and create the circumstances in which this can be put it into action (including by providing funding)
  • Listening to what older people say would help them to avoid and overcome loneliness, and responding in a way that respects their preferences

How you can help

Loneliness can’t be tackled by Government action alone, we all have a role to play as individuals, families and communities in ensuring older people feel valued and included and that’s why we’re asking everyone to join us in taking action.

This winter, will you check in on older neighbours, relatives and friends?

Join the campaign

Sign the petition to help us demonstrate that loneliness in later life needs to be addressed: no one should have no one.

Who will you be spending Christmas with? Will you be seeing your grandchildren or grandparents?

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