* more than a million old people in Britain say they haven’t spoken to a friend, neighbour or family member for over a month.
* the approach of Christmas, for many old people, will reinforce feelings of loss and loneliness and new research shows that 60% of people aged over 65 don't expect 'festive happiness'.
* loneliness can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and very lonely old people are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, as those who are not lonely at all.
With this in mind, Samantha has organised an e-petition to ask David Cameron's Government to :
TO COMMIT AND TAKE ACTION WITH 'AGE UK' TO PREVENT AND TACKLE LONELINESS by providing answers to the questions :
* What do old people themselves say would help them avoid or overcome loneliness ?
* What works best in preventing and tackling loneliness ?
* Where, in Britain, are old people most at risk from loneliness ?
* What steps can be taken and funding provided to prevent loneliness ?
Samantha starts her campaign against a backdrop of previous initiatives :
* In 2011 the 'Campaign to End Loneliness' was launched by a coalition of organisations and individuals, working together through research and campaigning to inspire old people to keep connected and in 2013 and the 'Age UK Notts Campaign to End Loneliness' group broadcast : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLMN_CHSqzo
* In 2012, research commissioned by 'Age UK' and based on 1,000 respondents, concluded that :
* around three and a half million old people faced a life alone and without help or friendship from their neighbours because, either they 'do not want to be a burden 'or think their neighbours 'always seem to be busy'.
* 700,000 people aged over 65 said they were 'often', or even 'always lonely', and the same number did 'not know their neighbours at all'.
* during winter, isolation could intensify, having an adverse effect on physical and mental well-being with some studies showing that feelings of loneliness can be equivalent to well-established risk factors such as obesity and smoking.
* In 2013, a survey of over 1000 old people commissioned by 'Associated Retirement Community Operators' into the extent of loneliness among them which concluded that :
* more than 66 million hours were spent alone by people aged over 65 in Britain each day, equivalent to each person over 65 spending more than 100 days alone each year..
* over half of respondents (54%) said they felt 'unable to talk about this loneliness with their family' or 'their children' (46 %).
* London was the loneliest place in the country to grow old, with over 65s spending an average of 7.8 hours on their own each day.
Jon Gooding, Chairman of the 'Associated Retirement Community Operators', said:
"We are in the grip of a loneliness epidemic. People are fearful of their declining health, and yet appear to be unprepared for old age. Couple this with the fact that in 2033 there will be 3.3million people over the age of 85 in the UK and it becomes clear that we face a momentous challenge".
THE PETITION :