Living in isolation

There are one million people over 65 living lonely and isolated lives in the UK. Over half a million older people will spend Christmas day alone, according to Friends of the Elderly (FotE), a charity dedicated to supporting older people. The group aspires to a society where all older people are treated with respect and have the opportunity to live fulfilled lives.

Richard Furze, chief executive of FotE, said “The effects of isolation on older people – including loneliness, depression, feelings of low self-worth, poor health and diet – can be devastating, with isolated individuals being less likely to obtain the services they need or seek help. We understand that people are incredibly busy today, and especially at Christmas, but we urge people to get more involved with the older people around them – and not just at Christmas.

Small things such as simply checking in on an older neighbour regularly, popping a card through their door or having a chat with an older person at the shops is enjoyable for both young and older people, only takes a moment and can make a real difference. Rather than leave it to the few, if we all do a little bit then a lot will get done!”

FotE’s campaign involves the following activities:

• Christmas Makers – where people in local communities are invited to decorate the care homes.

• Festive lunches – FotE has invited isolated members of the community to come to their homes and join in with their festive lunches.

• Christmas card designed by residents in FotE’s homes – – produced in association with Smartsenda cards.

FotE will be release its research this month on why people don’t want to look after older people at Christmas as well as a video which will look at the stark differences between an isolated, elderly lady living next door to a vibrant young family preparing for Christmas.

According to FotE, isolation can happen to anyone at any time and often people are unprepared for how to face it. It added: “Our breakdown in families and society with widely dispersed family members often means that through illness and/or bereavement people become isolated. Isolation can take several forms: From living alone in rural isolation to ‘emotional’ isolation, having no-one to interact with or confide in.”

Furthermore, the situation is likely to get worse as UK’s population ages  – by 2083, approximately one in three people will be over 60.


Policies & initiatives 

The UK Government is currently looking at an interesting recent initiative which will involve mapping where isolation is around the country:

The charity Nesta and the cabinet office launched an interesting campaign calling for ideas on how to find a solution to the problem earlier this year:



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