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'Lonely' older people do not know 'busy' neighbours

More than three million people aged 65 and over are not getting any help, support or companionship from neighbours, research shows.

More than 700,000 older people in the UK report that they “always” or “often” feel lonely with over half of all older people considering the TV as their main form of company.

It is claimed loneliness can have the same adverse effects on an older person's health as obesity and smoking.

The research by charity Age UK found more than 3.5 million (35%) people aged 65 and over are “concerned” about staying warm at home and almost 4.5 million (43%) are worried about falling over on slippery pavements.

Charity Age UK is calling on the general public to pledge to help older people in their communities during the winter months.  

“The winter can cause misery, avoidable illness and even death for too many older people,” said Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK.

“We're hoping to inspire everyone to act now to do their bit to lessen the impact of winter for older people this year. There is something simple that everyone can do from popping in to check on an older neighbour to making time for older relatives.”

Almost one in 12 (7%) older people reported "not knowing" their neighbours, largely due to older people not wanting to appear to be a "burden" coupled with a perception that their neighbours "always seem to be busy".

Figures show this winter as many as 25,000 older people could die needlessly because of the cold - that's around 200 preventable deaths a day.

“It's shocking that so many older people die needlessly in the winter months,” said actress Dame Helen Mirren.

“I'm supporting Age UK's Big Winter Pledge by spreading the word about the importance of keeping warm this winter - whether that's layering up when we go out or keeping our living rooms at 21 degrees and bedrooms at 18 degrees.”