Loneliness

Wide-reaching impacts.

Older lady looking (from side)

The Challenge

The perception of rural life is that everyone knows each other, so may not expect loneliness to be a concern in our communities. But it can be harder to connect with others, or to be open about feeling lonely, when there are fewer people around. Opportunities to pursue special interests or hobbies, or access support networks, including online, may also be limited.

Feeling lonely makes a huge difference to people’s wellbeing. It also affects physical health, such as blood pressure, sleeping patterns, and the choices we make, such as what to eat and staying fit. For those over the age of 50, whether you feel lonely or supported in a positive way, has the greatest impact on how satisfied you are with your life – more so than how well you are physically.

 

50%

decreased risk of mortality linked to social relationships and ties.

CtEL
 

Of course, people of any age can feel isolated and sometimes loneliness is triggered by key life events, so it is important not to make assumptions about who may be affected in your community. And it can be difficult to admit to anyone, including oneself. Among those more likely to be lonely could be:

  • Older people and those living alone
  • Recently bereaved people or anyone experiencing a sudden change in their lives, e.g. new parents
  • Those without or with insecure employment
  • Young people.
Lonely person on bench (field)

Rural areas have more ‘white British’ people living in them (95 per cent as compared with 77.2 per cent in urban areas). Minority ethnic groups are therefore represented in very small numbers and may lack social and community support found in urban centres.

LGA and Public Health England

Health and wellbeing in rural areas

 

Chronic loneliness increases the risk of developing dementia by 64%.

CtEL
 
Lonely person on bench (coast)