Loneliness is becoming an increasing problem for people in Ireland according to a recent study, and the issue is surprisingly more prevalent in Dublin than it is in rural areas.
As many as one in three people aged over 50 has struggled with loneliness, and it is more likely to be men who are suffering than women.
The study was carried out by researchers at Trinity College. It found that up to 400,000 people living in Ireland could be suffering from loneliness.
It is a concern for the country regarding both people’s mental and physical health.
Some of the findings from the study included that:
• Nearly 10% of people aged over 50 is isolated with one or fewer regular social contacts.
• Of those who have high levels of social contact, one in five still report feeling lonely.
• Those with the least education are more likely to be feel isolated.
• Older people who live alone are twice as likely to suffer from loneliness as those who live with others.
Dr Mark Ward was the leader of the study. He said: “Loneliness is a growing public health concern as there is clear evidence that feeling lonely is damaging to the health and well-being of older adults.
“This report highlights the fact that certain groups of older adults are particularly vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation. In particular, older adults who live alone are more socially isolated and report greater feelings of loneliness.
“Lonely individuals tend to have poorer health and quality of life, and loneliness is strongly linked to depression. This report provides clear evidence of the need to address loneliness in the older population. This is particularly important as we strive to make Ireland the ‘best place in the world to grow older’.”
The study found some interesting patterns and trends as to when and how loneliness could occur.
For example, it is not necessarily true that people are more likely to feel lonely as they get older. The report found that the chances decrease between the ages of 50 and 67 before rising again.
There is a slight variance in the pattern between genders as 56% of men who live on their own were in the “most lonely” category compared to 45% of women.
Finally the study found that people living in rural areas were less likely than those in Dublin to be in the most isolated group.
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