Researchers found links of loneliness to mental health problems in Britain’s older generation.
Thousands of older people suffering from loneliness are more at risk of long-term health problems, according to a study.
Research by Anglia Ruskin University observed the experiences of people contacting the 24-hours phone service for older people founded by Dame Esther Rantzen, The Silver Line.
It discovered that 75% of the callers were in poor health, compared to approximately one third of their younger counterparts.
Anecdotal evidence also points to many callers having mental health problems and that reductions in other services are making some of the problems they face worse, the report added.
Professor of healthcare policy at Anglia Ruskin, Professor Stephen Moore, stated that the fact these older people experience a set of issues which feed off one another makes the job of solving their loneliness more difficult.
He added that it is possibly more worthwhile, because assisting someone to feel less lonely may mean they find other problems in their life easier to handle.
The report discovered that 80% of those who called The Silver Line for friendship and advice to fight loneliness also had long-standing disability or illness.
Only 46% of people surveyed stated that they frequently enjoy the things they do, compared with 76% of the general older population sample.
More than one in three people supported by The Silver Line recorded the highest score on a loneliness index, while only approximately one in twenty people of their age generally register a score this high.
The research team measured callers’ loneliness at the start and at the end of a six-month period.
They discovered that after six months, slightly under one third of people were less lonely, in accordance with their index score.
The study found that women are more likely to call The Silver Line than men, with only 31% of callers being male. This points to the fact that the service should concentrate more on targeting men, according to the report.
After she wrote about her loneliness since being bereaved and living alone, Dame Esther founded The Silver Line in 2013.
She stated that she was overwhelmed by the enormous response from older people who shared her experience of loneliness.
The Silver Line, earlier this year marked the milestone of receiving 50,000 calls.