Making a difference to Men’s health

During Men’s Health Awareness Week we discuss some of the pertinent health issues affecting older men, and look at the advice and support available.

Mind Matters

We live in an age where mental health problems touch all our lives. Our research shows that over half of people over the age of 60 report feeling unhappy or depressed at any one time with older men’s mental wellbeing most at risk. Continue reading “Making a difference to Men’s health”

A life worth living

Commissioned by Age UK campaigns team, Sue Linge

In an almost unbearably sad piece about the death of her husband, the journalist Decca Aitkenhead wrote that ‘loneliness, I have learnt, is not an absence of company. It is an absence of meaning.’

Age UK estimates that more than 1.2 million older people are lonely and that chronic loneliness is affecting a growing number of older people as the population ages. There are particular issues that mean older people are at risk from loneliness – such as bereavement, ill health and complex long term health conditions. Loneliness is an issue that we think deserves more focus and we highlight it in our manifesto for the 2017 General Election. We believe the new Government must take the lead in developing a national strategy to identify, prevent and tackle loneliness, especially but not exclusively among older people. Continue reading “A life worth living”

Loneliness isn’t inevitable in later life

Marjorie Barker blogs about “overwhelming” loneliness she felt in later life, what she did to combat it and the importance of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness

When you’re alone, you feel that you can’t achieve anything. This is why the work of Age UK and the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness is so important.

Image of Marjorie Barker
Marjorie Barker

Nobody anticipates loneliness, it just happens. For me it came a decade ago, when my husband Alan developed vascular dementia and I became his carer. Not only did the man I had shared so much with no longer recognise me, but I also lost contact with everything and everyone I had known before. I couldn’t go out, as Alan could not be left alone.

Meaningful conversation was no longer possible with my husband, and for seven years my main form of human interaction came at Alan’s appointments at the memory clinic.

Continue reading “Loneliness isn’t inevitable in later life”

Guest blog: Combating loneliness together

Photo credit
Rachel Reeves MP and Seema Kennedy MP. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian newspaper

Jo Cox was a doer. She became an MP to change things. She was driven by compassion and a clear sense of right and wrong which led her to get involved in a number of issues in parliament and beyond which sat above party politics: from the plight of civilians caught up in the Syrian conflict to the lonely lives of some of her constituents in Batley and Spen in Yorkshire. Continue reading “Guest blog: Combating loneliness together”

Combating loneliness together

Jo Cox
Jo Cox MP

The brilliant children’s story writer Judith Kerr, now in her 90’s, has commented that the problem with being widowed is ‘not that there’s nobody to do things with, it’s that there’s nobody to do nothing with. You have to make some plan for the day otherwise there’s this shapeless emptiness.’ Her words, as usual, are precise and cut straight to the heart of the issue (as well as appealing straight to the heart) and also apply to loneliness more broadly.

Having ‘nobody to do nothing with’ affects more of us than we ever knew. So many of us are lonely in fact that it doesn’t feel an exaggeration to call it a crisis. Age UK research has found that half a million people over the age of 60 usually spend every day alone, with nearly half a million more often going at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all. Continue reading “Combating loneliness together”

Challenging assumptions of health and ageing

The recent publication of the latest ONS figures on average life expectancy have become familiar reading. How long you are likely to live is still heavily dependent on where in the country you live. A woman who is 65 living in Kensington and Chelsea can reasonably expect to live another 25 years, while a woman of the same age in Manchester can expect just under 19.

Without some recognition of the variability of ageing, we risk continuing the characterisation of health and wellbeing in later life as a rapid downward spiral. This underpins the many statements about the “burden” of an ageing society, or the pressure that older people place on essential services. Continue reading “Challenging assumptions of health and ageing”