Shops in the UK are being encouraged to play a greater role in combatting loneliness among elderly people after it was revealed that 11% of older people rely on conversations with shop assistants and owners to cheer up their days.
New research by Age UK shows that 1.7m older people in England go for a whole month without meeting up with a friend and an estimated 300,000 over-65s do not have a conversation with their family or friends over this same period.
The charity encourages a range of activities for older people, including lunch clubs, cooking classes, dance lessons and advice sessions.
A large number of mobility shops already hold coffee mornings and other community events to help their current and new customers to socialise.
Loneliness is a huge issue that affects people all year round but it can become even harder during the winter months, according to Age UK.
Colder weather brings an increase in associated health problems for those in later life and short, dark days make it harder to get out and about, which can leave older people feeling more isolated and alone and more reliant on family, friends or neighbours able to pop by.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: “Loneliness sucks the joy out of life and affects far too many older people, but if we all play our part there’s a lot we can do to tackle the problem.
“As people age, their local area usually matters a lot more to them than it did when they were younger because they spend more time in it.
“None of us can ‘solve loneliness’ on our own, but a friendly chat with your neighbour or when you’re out and about can brighten up an older person’s day and do much more good than most of us would ever guess.”