It is great to see that the government are focussing on the needs of older people. A report suggests 1.3 million older people are starving through loneliness and MPs are demanding more support for lunch clubs. It is believed that isolation is causing malnutrition and food schemes such as lunch clubs and meals on wheels will help break this cycle. Because loneliness is not an immediate social care issue people fall below the radar but people are now arriving at hospital just 5 and a half stone in weight.
The Prime Minister described loneliness as a “sad reality of modern life” and appointed Tracey Crouch as the first Minister for Loneliness to deal with isolation. Generally pensioner poverty has fallen and malnourishment is often down to isolation rather than a lack of money. This has a knock on effect to the NHS as people eventually require hospital treatment and this costs £12 billion a year. Only 29,000 people receive meals on wheels down from 155,000 a decade ago.
The Registered Manager for Independent Living (Amanda Singleton) commented “given modern life many families are busy or may even live in another country. Many older people spend the day alone and for some this creates isolation and loneliness. Some older people are reasonably wealthy but if they don’t have family nearby and their network of friends is getting smaller they can find themselves alone if they no longer drive or are too ill to go out. This can be made worse when a long term partner dies. Lunch clubs, meals on wheels, home care and voluntary/community networks can all help to ensure that older people do have social contact and maintain their spirits.”