The Campaign to End Loneliness and the Department of Health hosted a Summit to tackle loneliness in older age on the 15th of March 2012.

This event brought together representatives from the local government, charity and business sectors to gain wider commitment to overcoming loneliness. It highlighted the importance of taking action to combat loneliness in older age, which is a pressing health issue.

A report summarising the Summit speeches and table discussions is now available:

[download id=”48″ format=”1″]

A new publication Combating Loneliness: A guide for local authorities, launched by Steve Webb at the Summit can be found here.

Videos of the event are also now online:

Welcome and Introduction: Paul Burstow MP, Minister of State for Care Services (03.20)

Welcome and Introduction: Janet Morrison, Chief Executive, Independent Age (03:04)

A View from the Media: Mark Easton, BBC News Home Editor

Understand the person, understand the issue: Laura Ferguson, Director, Campaign to End Loneliness (08:45)

Relaying the urgency – the research: Paul Cann, Chief Executive, Age UK Oxfordshire (13:39)

Local solutions to provide connections in older age: David McCullough, Chief Executive, WRVS (10:44)

Ministerial Address: Paul Burstow MP, Minister of State for Care Services and Steve Webb MP, Minister of State for Pensions (15:40)

Finally, presentation slides from the day can be download here: [download id=”47″ format=”1″]

We know that:

Taking preventative action to combat loneliness can ultimately improve health and wellbeing of older people, and could deliver savings to both health and social care services in the longer term, and this Summit will be an important first step towards achieving this.

Research demonstrates that loneliness has an effect on mortality that is similar in size to cigarette smoking [1]. It is associated with poor mental [2] and conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension [3] and dementia [4].

Socially isolated and lonely adults are more likely to undergo early admission into residential or nursing care [5].

[1] Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB. Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS Med 2010;7(7).

[2] Cacioppo JT, Hughes ME, Waite LJ, Hawkley LC, Thisted RA. Loneliness as a specific risk factor for depressive symptoms: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Psychol Aging 2006;21(1):140-51.

[3] Hawkley LC, Thisted RA, Masi CM, Cacioppo JT. Loneliness predicts increased blood pressure: 5-year cross-lagged analyses in middle-aged and older adults. Psychol Aging 2010;25(1):132-41.

[4] Wilson RS, Krueger KR, Arnold SE, Schneider JA, Kelly JF, Barnes LL, et al. Loneliness and risk of Alzheimer disease. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2007 Feb; 64(2):234-40

[5] Russell DW, Cutrona CE, de la Mora A, Wallace RB. Loneliness and nursing home admission among rural older adults. Psychol Aging 1997;12(4):574-89.