Region’s older folk are among UK’s loneliest

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Some 87 per cent of North West over-55s have felt lonely in the last 12 months.

New research suggests the region has some of the highest levels of loneliness among older people in the UK.

The survey, for retirement house-builder McCarthy and Stone, the North West was shown to have limited opportunities for socialising for older residents, with over two thirds of those surveyed stating there is a lack of adequate, age appropriate events where they live and 41 per cent would consider moving to a more sociable area.

The report, Building Companionship: how better design can combat loneliness in later life, has been compiled by cross-party thinktank Demos and commissioned by McCarthy and Stone to better understand how loneliness amongst older people can be tackled.

Geographical location is shown to have significant impact on people at risk of feeling lonely.

Loneliness is a growing concern in the UK with over a million older people admitting to consistently feeling lonely – with those over 80 almost twice as likely to report feeling lonely in comparison to their younger counterparts.

The report highlighted evidence showing how loneliness can have a declining effect on a person’s health, with people who say they feel lonely more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and depression, and are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease in later life in comparison to those with stronger social relationships.

In fact, researchers have estimated that loneliness has a comparable risk to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Results showed that the high levels of companionship found in purpose-built retirement developments could be emulated in the wider community, with building design and town planning key factors to help address social isolation.