Loneliness May Become An Epidemic By 2030 Unless Action Is Taken

Loneliness May Become An Epidemic By 2030
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Loneliness among the elderly may seem like an issue unrelated to you if you are in your 30s and 40s, but according to experts, you could be affected later on in life if measures aren't taken now.

A new report reveals that isolation among the elderly could reach "epidemic proportions" by 2030.

Loneliness and isolation has become a "serious issue" for our ageing population, according to a report by charity Independent Age and the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC UK).

The document sets out the worst and best case scenarios of how Britain will cope with the ageing population in the coming 16 years.

In the best case, by 2030, experts will recognise loneliness as a public health problem, with officials promoting services and programmes to counter it, the authors said.

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But in the worst case scenario "isolation reaches epidemic proportions", they wrote.

This could be fuelled by health problems, the report suggested.

By 2030 there could be a generation afflicted with obesity and long-term health conditions because of current poor diets, sedentary lifestyles and alcohol.

Meanwhile, income inequalities among the elderly could leave many relying on the television for their only companionship.

The report highlighted some considerations that should be taken into account to "prepare for the opportunities and challenges ahead".

"Policy makers are still failing to plan for the long-term despite the House of Lords' warning a year ago that the UK is 'woefully under-prepared' for our ageing population," Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, said.

"We must use the next parliament to make tough policy choices and prepare for a shift in our population the like of which we have never seen.

"If we duck these choices, we believe we will slide backwards, with greater numbers of poorer older people, living in increasingly inappropriate housing, lonely and in ill health."

David Sinclair, assistant director of policy and communications at the ILC UK, added: "If we don't better respond to the challenges we see today, we won't be able to make the most of the opportunities of an ageing society tomorrow.

"On the one hand, 2030 could see older people forced into lonelier, poorer and unhappier lives by a government and society which refuses to address their issues.

"But this report highlights the window of opportunity for policymakers.

"It paints an alternative picture of our society in 2030 respecting, valuing and maximising the contribution of older people.

"If we can better plan for an ageing society we will see a more active and engaged older population.

"We can't put off preparing for ageing any longer."