“Combating loneliness A guide for local authorities” is a new document produced by the Local Government Association (LGA), Age UK and the Campaign to End Loneliness, to guide those interested in taking action at a local level to combat loneliness. It offers a brief summary of key research on the issue of loneliness, and some practical steps every local authority, working in collaboration with other local partners, can take to tackle the problem. These practical steps are illustrated by case studies drawn from around the country.
What is loneliness?
Whilst loneliness is often associated with social isolation, it is important to understand that these two concepts, though linked, are separate. Loneliness is a subjective state – a response to people’s perceptions and feelings about their social connections – rather than an objective state.
Academic research is clear that preventing and alleviating loneliness is vital to enabling
older people to remain as independent as possible. Lonely individuals are more likely to:
• visit their GP, have higher use of medication, higher incidence of falls and increased risk factors for long term care
• undergo early entry into residential or nursing care
• use accident and emergency services independent of chronic illness.
It is possible for individuals to be lonely, but not isolated, or isolated, but not lonely. Therefore
loneliness requires a more subtle response, often going beyond efforts simply to maintain
number, or frequency, of social connections.
Loneliness takes a number of forms. A distinction is often drawn between social
loneliness and emotional loneliness, so that ‘emotional loneliness is the absence of a
significant other with whom a close emotional attachment is formed (eg a partner or best
friend) and social loneliness is the absence of a social network consisting of a wide or broad group of friends, neighbours and colleagues’.
Loneliness can be a chronic condition which is exacerbated with advancing age, or a condition which flares up in later life in response to life events.
Download your copy of “Combating loneliness A guide for local authorities” and read the full report inside.