Estimating Need In Older People

Estimating Need In Older People: Findings For England. An analysis by Age UK


This report by Age UK outlines how ill health, poverty, unmet needs for care and support, poor housing, loneliness and social isolation are profound challenges for many older people. It estimates the numbers and percentages of people aged 65 and over in England with these disadvantages, and collates insights from older people’s own voices about the experience of living with them.

Full report at Age UK

Tackling loneliness

This guide outlines the current loneliness policy context, uses a range of case studies to demonstrate effective local delivery models working in practice, and provides useful check lists and top tips on how to measure and evaluate outputs | Local Government Association


Loneliness can often be associated with older people who live on their own, but it is not just about social isolation or older people; being lonely can have an impact irrespective of age and circumstance. Frequent loneliness can also ramp up pressure on public services, increase referrals to adult social care and trigger multiple attendances at GP surgeries – the significance of this being likened to issues such as obesity and smoking.

This ‘Reaching out’ guide is an important starting point and a practical resource in supporting principal and local councils to tackle loneliness. In preparing this guide, the authors have explored how best practice can be shared to support commissioners, service providers, councillors and leaders across the tiers, as well as those people affected by loneliness.

Full document: Reaching out. Guide to helping principal and local councils tackle loneliness | Local Government Association | National Association of Local Councillors

Tackling loneliness

House of Commons Library | August 2019  |8514| 5|Tackling loneliness 

Tackling loneliness is a briefing from the House of Commons Library- it looks at research into the causes and impact of loneliness and possible intervention and also explains the Strategy and the steps taken so far by the Government; as well as briefly outlining the situation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (Source: House of Commons Library).
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See also:

Reading list 

Tackling loneliness (full report)

The social impact of participation in culture and sport

Report encourages the government to recognise the ‘unique power’ of sport and culture to change lives, transform cities and break the cycle of crime | The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee 

This report finds that opportunities to reap major benefits in criminal justice, education and health are being missed by the government’s failure to recognise and harness social impact. It argues that the full health impacts of cultural programmes are far from being reached in social prescribing and recommends that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport should encourage sporting organisations to take part in social prescribing schemes, which can go beyond physical health benefits to include social impacts, such as tackling loneliness.


The Report finds evidence that:

  • Reoffending rates can be reduced through access to sport or cultural programmes
  • Involvement in the arts and sports provides a constructive influence on young people with positive role models
  • Despite a link between sporting participation and educational attainment, sport ‘dropping off’ the agenda within education
  • Arts subjects downgraded in schools

Full report: Changing Lives: the social impact of participation in culture and sport

How men experience and combat loneliness and social isolation in later life

Older Men at the Margins: how men experience and combat loneliness and social isolation in later life | Age UK

Older men at the margins was a two-year study to understand how men aged 65 and over from different social backgrounds and circumstances experienced loneliness and social isolation. It also explored the formal and informal ways they sought to stay connected with others and feel less lonely. This guidance sets out the learning from the research and highlights factors to be considered to meet the diverse needs of older men through group programmes and interventions.

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The guidance includes the following sections:

Full detail at age UK

Additional resources:

Serious loneliness spans the adult lifespan but there is a silver lining

Science Daily | December 2018 | Serious loneliness spans the adult lifespan but there is a silver lining

A research team from the University of California San Diego studied loneliness, their findings suggest loneliness is more widespread than previous research indicated. They found that experiencing loneliness was particularly pronounced at three points in life:  in late-20s, mid-50s and late-80s. Three quarters of participants reported moderate to high levels of loneliness, using a well-established assessment scale: the UCLA Loneliness Scale Version 4. This statistic shows a substantial increase from previously reported prevalence estimates in the U.S. general population, which have ranged from 17 to 57 per cent (via Science Daily)


Lead author Ellen Lee, characterized the study’s findings as both bad news and good news. On the negative side, she said, moderate to severe loneliness appears to be highly prevalent throughout adult life. “And loneliness seems to be associated with everything bad. It’s linked to poor mental health, substance abuse, cognitive impairment, and worse physical health, including malnutrition, hypertension and disrupted sleep.”

Another finding was more positive linking wisdom to being less lonely (Source: Science Daily).

Lee, E. E. et al |2018|  High prevalence and adverse health effects of loneliness in community-dwelling adults across the lifespan: role of wisdom as a protective factor| International Psychogeriatrics| 1 |DOI: 10.1017/S1041610218002120

Objectives:This study of loneliness across adult lifespan examined its associations with sociodemographics, mental health (positive and negative psychological states and traits), subjective cognitive complaints, and physical functioning.

Design:Analysis of cross-sectional data

Participants:340 community-dwelling adults in San Diego, California, mean age 62 (SD = 18) years, range 27–101 years, who participated in three community-based studies.

Measurements:Loneliness measures included UCLA Loneliness Scale Version 3 (UCLA-3), 4-item Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Social Isolation Scale, and a single-item measure from the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CESD) scale. Other measures included the San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE) and Medical Outcomes Survey- Short form 36.

Results:Seventy-six percent of subjects had moderate-high levels of loneliness on UCLA-3, using standardized cut-points. Loneliness was correlated with worse mental health and inversely with positive psychological states/traits. Even moderate severity of loneliness was associated with worse mental and physical functioning. Loneliness severity and age had a complex relationship, with increased loneliness in the late-20s, mid-50s, and late-80s. There were no sex differences in loneliness prevalence, severity, and age relationships. The best-fit multiple regression model accounted for 45% of the variance in UCLA-3 scores, and three factors emerged with small-medium effect sizes: wisdom, living alone and mental well-being.

Conclusions:The alarmingly high prevalence of loneliness and its association with worse health-related measures underscore major challenges for society. The non-linear age-loneliness severity relationship deserves further study. The strong negative association of wisdom with loneliness highlights the potentially critical role of wisdom as a target for psychosocial/behavioral interventions to reduce loneliness. Building a wiser society may help us develop a more connected, less lonely, and happier society.

Rotherham NHS staff can request the journal article here

Tackling loneliness

The government is asking organisations with expertise and experience in tackling loneliness to provide views on the strategy framework being developed. It is believed that factors contributing to loneliness include disability, ill health and caring responsibilities. The closing date for comments is 20 July 2018.


The Government’s Loneliness Strategy will be its first step in tackling the long-term challenge of loneliness. Loneliness is a complex issue that affects many different groups of people, and its evidence base is still developing. The current evidence base tends to measure loneliness in terms of frequency, and it shows that people who feel lonely most or all of the time are more likely to suffer ill health.

In addition, people who feel lonely more often can become more sensitive to perceived threats and withdraw further, creating a vicious cycle. As a result, the stratgey will look at approaches that reduce the risk, prevent loneliness or that intervene early, before loneliness becomes entrenched.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently analysed how individual circumstances and characteristics contribute to the likelihood of experiencing loneliness, holding all else equal. The ONS found that the following were significant factors:

  • age – younger people (16-24) were significantly more likely to report feeling lonely
  • gender – women were more likely to report feeling lonely
  • marital status – widowed people were more likely to report feeling lonely
  • disability and ill-health (self-reported) – those reporting were more likely to feel lonely
  • number of adults in the household – those living alone were more likely to report feeling lonely
  • caring responsibilities – those caring were more likely to report feeling lonely
  • neighbourhood connectedness – those who do not chat to neighbours more than to say hello, or do not feel as though they belong to or satisfied with their neighbourhood were more likely to report feeling lonely
  • how often you meet up in person with family members or friends – those who met up once a month or less were more likely to feel lonely

Read more about the Government’s Loneliness Strategy