Government officials have been asked to measure the scale of loneliness across Britain after The Office for National Statistics reported a massive one million rise in the number of people living alone since 1996.
Today, one in three households contains a person who lives alone.
The same report shows that only 17% of older people who live alone remain in contact with family, while five million admit that their main form of company is the television.
This, according to experts, is partly to blame for the spike in health problems and resulting financial burden on the NHS.
Loneliness is thought to increase inactivity and pre-empt health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure and blood clots. Social isolation can also be partly blamed for rising mental health problems including depression and dementia.
Care and support minister Norman Lamb, said: “For the first time, we will be aiming to define the extent of the problem by introducing a national measure for loneliness.”
All local authorities will be issued a guide by the Campaign to End Loneliness. The guide outlines how tackling loneliness in the community could reduce health care costs and ‘reconnect individuals to their communities’.
The guide uses an example of a pilot scheme in Essex, which saw volunteers ‘befriending’ lonely older people. Although the initial costs were £80 a head, savings of £300 per person were made by the end of the year due to reduced health costs.
It is so important to feel wanted and useful in life. Without the compassion and company of others, loneliness, low self-confidence and unhappiness can quickly set in, potentially leading to other more serious mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
A counsellor could help you combat loneliness. To find out more, head over to our Types of Distress page and browse subjects.
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