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Older people reveal their thoughts about loneliness

Older people reveal their thoughts about loneliness Loneliness is a complex but private matter for older people.
Loneliness

Loneliness in later life is common but there is little research in this area. This qualitative study explored the views of older people regarding primary care and community based services that could address their feelings of loneliness.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 28 people aged 65 and over who lived at home and were enrolled in a larger study. All reported themselves as being lonely much of the time or were identified as lonely from a loneliness scale. All of them were able to leave their homes independently. The transcribed interviews were analysed thematically.

Shared interests

Most participants knew about local social and community resources. However, the majority thought that community and primary care services for their loneliness would not be desirable or helpful at this point in their lives. Participants described preferences for group activities with a shared interest rather

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Loneliness in later life is common but there is little research in this area. This qualitative study explored the views of older people regarding primary care and community based services that could address their feelings of loneliness. 


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Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 28 people aged 65 and over who lived at home and were enrolled in a larger study. All reported themselves as being ‘lonely much of the time’ or were identified as lonely from a loneliness scale. All of them were able to leave their homes independently. The transcribed interviews were analysed thematically. 

Shared interests

Most participants knew about local social and community resources. However, the majority thought that community and primary care services for their loneliness would not be desirable or helpful at this point in their lives. Participants described preferences for group activities with a shared interest rather than social ones or one-to-one schemes such as befriending.

Participants were not interested in engaging with support activities described as specifically for older people or for loneliness. Primary care was not considered to have a role in alleviating loneliness because it is not an illness. For many participants, loneliness was a complex and private matter that they wished to manage without external support.


Kharicha K, Iliffe S, Manthorpe J et al (2017) What do older people experiencing loneliness think about primary care or community based interventions to reduce loneliness? A qualitative study in England. Health and Social Care in the Community. doi: 10.1111/hsc.12438. 

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