About 550,000, or one-third of the population of male pensioners in the United Kingdom who are suffering from long-term health issues are lonely, said a new report from charity group Age UK.
The numbers are expected to surge to two-thirds by 2030 as the life expectancy for senior men becomes closer to that for women. Age UK is calling for urgent measures to address the issue, which is becoming a "major public health challenge."
Senior male adults aged 65 years old and above and living alone have higher chances of suffering from loneliness compared to women. They are also more likely to have less regular contact with friends and family.
The risk increases as the senior men grow older. The risk is even higher among those with long-term disabilities or health issues.
Past studies proved that loneliness has an impact on mental health. It also heightens the risks of developing health conditions such as depression, dementia and high blood pressure.
Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams explained that more often than not, loneliness is a hidden issue. Many senior men appear stoic and are often unwilling to admit how lonely they feel.
"But facing the ups and downs of later life alone shouldn't be 'the new normal' for any older person," said Abrahams, adding that everyone has the responsibility to act and help the senior adults in their lives.
In a survey conducted by Age UK, it was found that nearly 90 percent of seniors more than 65 years old believe more support should be made available to help older people who are lonely.
More than 25 percent believe that a simple weekly visit can help those who feel lonely. About 15 percent of the participants feel that a local group or club, or even a simple act of getting to know neighbors better, can help.
Nick Sanderson from the Audley Retirement Villages in the UK highlighted the fact that, whether it is among older men or women, loneliness has major impacts on both the mental and physical health of a person. However, loneliness can be prevented.
Sanderson added that in the UK, the growth of the over-65 demographic is faster than any age group in the country. But this shift shouldn't be closely associated with isolation.
"What we do know, is that high quality housing in older age can have a significant impact on promoting quality of life, and reducing these feelings of loneliness," said Sanderson.
The International Longevity Centre found the information to be a fact. A senior residential housing that offers flexible care can deliver positive impacts on the total well-being of older adults.
Abrahams said that as more senior men live longer, society needs to acknowledge that the numbers of chronically lonely senior men will increase as well, unless an intervention will be done.