Skip to content

Isolation and ageing in the UK

3 August 2015

What does the future of community cohesion look like? How far are boys falling behind when it comes to literacy? These are just a couple of the topics that we have been looking at through our work on future trends.

Since autumn 2013, we’ve been publishing a variety of these different Foresight reports to generate discussion and inform the planning of our future programmes.

Our new report – ‘Ageing in the UK’ – has just been published and looks at our ageing population, the challenges this poses to different services and how the projects we fund now and in the future can offer the best support.

Ageing in the UK report front coverSome of the key stories the new report reveals are:

The number of local authorities where more than a quarter of residents are over 65 will leap up a huge 245% by 2022.

While the increase in longevity is a good thing, wellbeing amongst older people declines slightly after 75 and declines much more sharply after 80. At the same time, loneliness has been found to increase amongst older people with illnesses that cause them limitations.

The impact of loneliness

On the topic of loneliness, it’s very much a gendered issue and more prevalent amongst women (with almost half of older women reported to have felt lonely at some point). The impact of loneliness has impacts far beyond mental health, with those experiencing isolation five times more likely to die prematurely.

Loneliness and dementia

Isolation is also disproportionately higher amongst those suffering from dementia. As with isolation, women are much more likely to suffer from dementia. By 2051, the number of dementia suffers will rise by over 100% while there’s evidence that suggests the risk of Alzheimer’s doubles amongst people experiencing loneliness.

Couple dancing at community centreCombating loneliness

Volunteering and digital technology are two of the key tools to help combat isolation and its resulting impacts. Volunteering is a powerful way to build strong social ties and alleviate loneliness. While there are strong number of women over 80 volunteering, men are under represented. Older people are also accessing the internet as much as young people, but more like to use it mainly for emailing and banking. Almost eight out of 10 over-65s use a computer once a week. As with volunteering, using computers and access to the internet helps alleviate loneliness amongst older people and reduces the impact of depression.

Share your comments

Over the next few days, we’ll be looking at some of the projects we’ve funded that are supporting older people through volunteering and digital inclusion. Why not get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook if you know a great project we’re funding that’s helping older people or what you think needs to be done to help combat isolation.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 3 August 2015 3:23 pm

    A good blog, well done Big. An idea for you – you are funding a young people and the environment programme – so why not fund an over 60’s Environment programme – could cover volunteering, transfer of skills, heritage, rural and urban communities ?

    • Big Lottery Fund permalink*
      4 August 2015 12:20 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment and idea. We will pass this on to our policy team. All the best.

  2. 5 August 2015 8:31 am

    Pete Johnstone’s reply reflects the position I take on the loneliness and isolation debate and you might be interested in a blog I posted on 4th March 2015 ” Loneliness and the Age Industry;Re-inforcing Agesist Narratives”.

    In addition an interview I had with Anna Goodman available on East London Radio

    Need to explore responses that are based on a broader construct than the short term responses re-inforcing ” benevolence and patronizing/paternalistic which by and large we currently have now.

    • Big Lottery Fund permalink*
      6 August 2015 7:36 am

      Thanks for your comments and links, Dr Eastman, they’ve been passed on to our Policy team.


  1. The @BigLotteryFund highlights role of digital technology in #AgeingBetter
  2. Digital inclusion can help address loneliness and #AgeingBetter - if co-designed with older people @BigLotteryFund
  3. Promise from @BigLotteryFund of a wider conversation about digital inclusion and Accelerating Ideas

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: