Loneliness among older men is becoming a “major public health challenge”, a charity has said.
Age UK said around half a million men over the age of 65 in England who have a long-term health problem are lonely, and this is only set to get worse as people live longer.
It is calling on the Government to recognise loneliness and isolation in later life as a serious health problem, and says action is needed to counteract it.
As well as the impact on mental health, loneliness is linked to an increased risk of conditions such as dementia, high blood pressure and depression.
Age UK argued that several reasons are contributing to high numbers of men feeling lonely, including families living away, hectic lives and more use of technology, which may make older people feel left behind.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “Loneliness is a widespread problem among older men, especially for those who are unwell, bereaved or who have seen family and friends move away.
“As more older men live longer, we need to appreciate that the numbers who are chronically lonely are likely to increase too – unless we do something about it, which we can and we must do.
“Loneliness is often a hidden issue, as many older men tend to be stoical and reluctant to admit how lonely they are. But facing the ups and downs of later life alone shouldn’t be ‘the new normal’ for any older person.
“Father’s Day is a great opportunity to re-connect with older relatives, and this year we especially want to draw attention to the needs of older men, particularly if they are unwell or live alone.
“A simple phone call or a visit could mean the world to someone who is feeling lonely and forgotten.”