UK – The Most Lonely Place In Europe
Changes in how we live, the increased use of technology, the decrease of the standard household and the reduced participation in social organisations such as churches and social clubs, are all contributing factors to a significant increase in loneliness. It’s impact is only more recently starting to be revealed, and the findings are very worrying…
On Time To Talk Day, we wanted to take the opportunity to consider the impact of loneliness, on people who perhaps feel they can’t talk, have nobody to talk to or are socially isolated. Loneliness is a growing issue in the UK. The full impact of loneliness is far reaching; for example, a GP survey in 2013 discovered 75% saw as many as 5 patients per day whose primary factor for visiting their local GPs, was loneliness. PHE also found that isolation and social seclusion are highly associated with a series of health concerns, including anxiety, stress, sleeping disorders and other mental health issues.
Research shows that loneliness is as harmful to a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day
Loneliness increases the likelihood of death by 26%. A further alarming study, shows those experiencing loneliness have a 64% increased chance of Dementia and a greater likelihood of suicide in older age (campaign to end loneliness.)
It will be of no surprise that certain factors significantly increase the chances of loneliness, with 60% those aged 52 or over, who are divorced, separated or widowed, admitting to feeling lonely (Beaumont, 2013.) Loneliness also appears particularly prevalent in older age, and with an ageing population, this is a growing concern. In 2015, the ONS published exceptionally high levels of loneliness amongst those 79 and above. However, they also reported outstanding numbers amongst the remaining population. From their research, it was concluded that the UK has the most recorded levels of people suffering from loneliness, in Europe.
The more active and working population are not immune from loneliness either
in the past 25 years, the amount of time we invest socially connecting face to face has fallen substantially. In 2014, a research study commissioned by Relate and Relationships Scotland, indicated that almost half of those surveyed did not count any of the associates at work as friends. In general, one in 10 stated they did not have a single close friend and 19% reported that in the two weeks preceding the study, they had never or had rarely felt loved.
The number of people residing in a single-person family has also increased dramatically, with statistics from the Office for National Statistics indicating that almost a third of those who do live alone, experience loneliness. The Campaign to End Loneliness, and numerous other excellent campaigns and charities are working hard to combat loneliness and increase awareness of this growing issue, encouraging others to recognise the impact of loneliness on neighbours, friends and even loved ones, and for those who are experiencing loneliness themselves – to reach out for support.
Within our community, we each have a moral responsibility to contribute to the fight against the threat of loneliness and the devastating impact it can have. Never underestimate the power of a simple “Hi” or “Hello” to a stranger, or a quick visit or call to an old friend or neighbour. It could mean the world to them…and even be a lifesaver.
If you live in the Mid Surrey area and you or somebody you know is feeling socially isolated, please contact us for a confidential chat and find out more about how we can help…from supporting with shopping and social visits, to companionship and help with routine tasks at home: Call us on 01372 230 782 or email email@example.com
If you have more urgent concerns about somebody’s well-being, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, or in an emergency, the emergency services.