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New research by Age Scotland has revealed the impact of the pandemic on older people
Age Scotland is warning of a new “epidemic of loneliness”, as its research reveals the impact of the pandemic on older people.
Recently released data from the Age Scotland's Big Survey, conducted with ScotInform, found that 10% of people over 50 – an estimated 218,000 in Scotland - say they feel lonely most or all of the time. This figure rises to 17% among those who live alone, an increasing sector of the older population. More than half of respondents (53%) said that lockdown had made them lonelier, but this rose to 65% among those living alone.
The charity believes that the country needs to get to grips with rising feelings of loneliness before they reach epidemic levels otherwise the health of the nation could be severely impacted. It is urging people to reach out to those at risk of loneliness in their community, and end the stigma around talking about it.
Its survey found that older women were more likely to be affected, with almost six in 10 (58%) saying they felt lonelier in the past year compared to 42% of men. This could be because they are more likely to live alone, since life expectancy is longer for women.
Interestingly, people in their 60s were most likely to feel lonely (12%) compared to only 9% of those in their 80s. However, a small number of respondents (2%) felt that the pandemic had made them less lonely, perhaps because it helped foster a sense of community.
Age Scotland launched its free Friendship Line on 0800 12 44 222 last year in response to the increasing number of older people feeling alone. As well as taking thousands of calls, its staff and volunteers call many older people for a regular chat and to check they are doing OK.