That’s according to a study carried out by the volunteer service, the WRVS, which calculates some 190,000 men over 75 who live alone spend more than 12 hours a day on their own.
Samantha Acton, owner of Southbourne-based home help service Domestic Angels, says the findings are symptomatic of the loneliness crisis facing senior citizens.
“For all the good work our Angels do in cleaning people’s homes, getting shopping and running errands, it is the provision of simple human contact that is most appreciated by many of our elderly clients,” says Samantha, who is also a director of Southbourne Creative Hub, working with local businesses to promote the creative arts to benefit residents and the community as a whole.
According to the WRVS research 41 per cent of men who live alone have fewer than two face-to-face conversations a day – and a third have none. The study also claims men are far less likely than women to confide their loneliness to friends and family.
“Loneliness is a major health issue. Experts say it’s as risky as smoking and a greater risk than obesity,” says Samantha. “It’s particularly true of men. Often, when you deal with people who live alone, you can see how they deteriorate over time.
“By definition, loneliness often goes unseen. It’s not something that social services can necessarily evaluate so a regular visit from a home help service can make a real difference to the quality of people’s lives.”
The study found 54 per cent of men who admitted to feeling lonely also suffered depression, but three-quarters of them had never sought help.