top of page

Loneliness in numbers

It is considered by many to be one of the largest public health challenges we face, these statistics describe why.

Loneliness is a part of life and something that most of us experience at some point. But when loneliness is severe or lasts a long time, it can have a negative impact on our health and well-being.

 

Recent studies suggest that long-term loneliness is one of the largest health concerns we face. It is as harmful as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Feeling lonely can lead to depression, anxiety, disrupted sleep and stress. It can also be a factor in heart disease, increased blood pressure and degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Long-term loneliness has serious health implications​

  • Loneliness is likely to increase your risk of death by 26%. [1]​​

 

  • Loneliness is worse for you than obesity. [2]

  • Loneliness is a risk factor for depression in later life. [3]

 

  • Loneliness and social isolation put individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline and dementia. [4]

  • Loneliness and social isolation have been linked to a 30% increase in the risk of having a stroke or coronary artery disease. [5] 

20.png

Loneliness affects people of all ages

  • 16-29-year-olds are twice as likely as those over 70s to experience loneliness [6]​

  • Characteristics of people who are more likely to experience loneliness include those who are widowed, those with poorer health and those with long-term illness or disability. [3]

  • In 2023, a survey from Nextdoor in partnership with Marmalade Trust revealed that 85% of UK adults had experienced loneliness in the last 12 months. Almost half (44%) felt chronically lonely. [4] 

  • Disconnected communities could be costing the UK economy £32 billion every year. [8]

  • The number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6. This compares to around 1.4 million in 2016/7 – a 49% increase in 10 years [9]

  • Half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all [10]

  • Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company [11].​

References

[1] Holt-Lunstad, 2015. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25910392/

[2] Holt-Lunstad, 2010.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20668659/

[3] Courtin, E., & Knapp, M. (2017). Social isolation, loneliness and health in old age: a scoping review. Health & social care in the community, 25(3), 799-812

[4] Cacioppo, J.T. and Cacioppo, S., 2014. Older adults reporting social isolation or loneliness show poorer cognitive function 4 years later. Evidence-based nursing, 17(2), pp.59-60.

[5] https://heart.bmj.com/content/102/13/1009 

[6] (Community Life Survey 2019-20) https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/community-life-survey-201920 

[7] Nextdoor, Marmalade Trust. "The silent epidemic". (2023)

[8] Research commissioned by Eden Project initiative The Big Lunch - https://www.edenprojectcommunities.com/the-cost-of-disconnected-communities 

[9] Age UK 2018, All The Lonely People

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/reports-and-briefings/loneliness/loneliness-report_final_2409.pdf

[10] Age UK 2016, No-one should have no one

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/Documents/EN-GB/No-one_Should_Have_No-one_Working_to_end_loneliness.pdf?dtrk=true

[11] Age, U.K., 2014. Evidence Review: Loneliness in Later Life. London: Age UK

Continue reading...

1592871397063.jpeg

If you’re going to know a few key things about loneliness, know these!

44.webp

Here's how we can all tackle the stigma surrounding loneliness.

3.png

Loneliness can often feel overwhelming so it can be useful to have a starting point.

bottom of page