Calls for collaboration in preventing loneliness amongst elderly

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have argued that vulnerable older people should be offered befriending programmes or exercise classes to prevent loneliness.

A national network, The Campaign to End Loneliness, suggests that over half of people aged 75 and over live alone and Age UK claims that 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with friends or family for a month.

As part of its new quality standard, NICE has urged councils, housing organisations and the voluntary sector to work together to identify vulnerable older people, saying that those most at risk should be directed to classes and programmes to help them avoid loneliness and solitude.

Such classes could include dancing or swimming clubs; arts groups or singing programmes or helping with reading in schools; as well as volunteering and befriending programmes.

This is because helping to retain independence among the elderly can benefit families and communities and may also reduce, delay or avoid their use of health and social care services.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive of NICE, said: “Everyone is affected differently by aging and whilst many older people can remain independent we need to do more to help those who can’t.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to promote and protect the mental well-being and independence of older people. Our new quality standard calls for older people at risk to be identified and offered appropriate activities.”

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