Thousands of over 65s admit they often go a week without speaking to anyone, study reveals
In a typical week, 22 percent of over 65s – almost 2.6 million – will only have a conversation with a maximum of three people they know. And 225,000 can see a whole week go by without talking to anyone face-to-face. Worryingly, 38 percent have felt lonely later in life, with 12 percent of those saying it has even stopped them from going out. The statistics emerged in a study by Cadbury Dairy Milk, which has partnered with Age UK to launch a new campaign, Donate Your Words.
The chocolate brand will be removing the words from its iconic bars and ‘donating’ them to the charity to help alleviate loneliness among older people.
The campaign will also encourage Brits to donate their words by pledging to reach out and have a chat with older people in their communities.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “Loneliness is a huge problem because retirement, bereavement and ill health mean many older people find they are spending a lot less time enjoying the company of others than they’d like.
“Loneliness can affect your health, your wellbeing and the way you see yourself – it can make you feel invisible and forgotten.
“Working with Cadbury Dairy Milk on this campaign could really help to raise even more awareness of the issue and encourage everybody to do their bit to help tackle it.
“A friendly ‘hello’ or ‘how are you?’ is something most of us take for granted – it’s just part of every day life, but these latest figures show that hundreds of thousands of older people in the UK will spend today and the rest of this week alone, with no one to share even a few simple words with.
“That’s why Age UK’s expert advice and support services are so crucial and help people in all sorts of ways, every day of the year.”
The study of 1,896 adults aged 65 and over also found that even the smallest of gestures could play a part in helping to tackle loneliness with 54 per cent saying that just a short conversation would make a huge difference to their day.
Almost four in 10 would feel more confident outside of the home if they knew their neighbours, while more than a quarter say it would help if someone smiles or says hello in a queue.
Others would feel less lonely if a neighbour stopped to say hello (24 percent) or someone asked them how their day had gone (21 percent).
A separate study of 2,000 16-45 year-olds, carried out via OnePoll, also found that 55 percent of those polled are worried about growing lonely in older age.
And 64 percent believe it gets harder to hold onto relationships the older you get.
But while 67 percent would be likely to do something that could potentially help boost the confidence of an older person who felt lonely, 37 percent hold back as they worry it won’t be well received.
Shyness (30 percent), not knowing how to help (27 percent) and being too busy (25 percent) also prevent people from stepping into help.
Laura Gray, brand manager at Mondelez said “We’re so proud to announce this partnership and to be supporting Age UK – it’s such an important charity that is really tackling the issue of loneliness.
“We are donating the words from our bars of Cadbury Dairy Milk and encouraging people up and down the country to donate theirs through small gestures that could really help change the lives of older people.
“Cadbury Dairy Milk knows there is a glass and a half of kindness and generosity in everyone, and therefore, are encouraging Brits to donate their words by pledging to reach out and have a chat with older people in their communities.”
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