Isolation: The emerging crisis for older men

Oct 13, 2014 | REPORTS

This report highlights the growing generation of older men that are facing a future of increased isolation.

The number of older men living alone is projected to rise by 65% between now and 2030. ILC-UK and Independent Age have conducted research which shows that:

• The number of older men living alone is expected to rise from 911,000 to 1.5 million by 2030.
• Older men are more socially isolated than older women.
• Older men have significantly less contact with their children, family and friends than older women.
• The number of older men outliving their partners is expected to grow.
The research is based on the latest data from the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing (ELSA), interviews with older men, focus groups and existing research.
In England, in 2012/2013, over 1.2 million men aged over 50 reported a moderate to high degree of social isolation. 710,000 men aged over 50 reported a high degree of loneliness.
In the report, loneliness is defined as a subjective perception in which a person feels lonely. Social isolation broadly refers to the absence of contact with other people.
The new research reveals that older men report significantly less social contact with children, family members and friends than older women. Almost 1 in 4 older men, 23%, have less than monthly contact with their children, and nearly 1 in 3, 31%, have less than monthly contact with other family members. For women the figures are 15% and 20% respectively. Also 1 in 3 older men without a partner are the most isolated, compared to over 1 in 5 women (37% v 23%).

The report looks at the importance of partnerships and examines how older men’s social networks tend to decline after the death of a partner. It calls on men to take steps to prevent isolation and loneliness and recommends action that government, charities and service providers can take to better address the needs of older men.