How can we reduce the toll of loneliness in older adults?
NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH RESEARCH
National Institute for Health Research
This alert brings together key findings on loneliness in older adults, to build a picture of what is known, and what is needed, to address the problem. The briefing covers: What is loneliness? How loneliness takes a heavy toll on health; How to address loneliness in the community; How professionals can help people in the community; How families and friends can help; Addressing loneliness in care homes; and How care staff can help. Key messages: research suggests that almost one in three people over 75 – and almost two in three carers of people with dementia - are lonely; the need to see older people as individuals; just two minutes extra with each older patient could make interactions more meaningful. Research also points to difficulties in introducing change. It suggests that care home staff need ongoing support to bring in new programmes to engage elderly residents. Future research will also be needed to explore loneliness among diverse groups in the population. Conclusion: a concerted effort to reduce loneliness in older adults would bring long-term benefits to the physical health of the population. It would also make a difference immediately to those people and their carers. (Edited publisher abstract)