Posts Tagged ‘ageing across europe’

Meet, Talk (Part 2)… and Make Connections

May 09 2013

How best can the Men Beyond 50 Network speak up about our common needs and gifts? How can our voice reach a wider audience? One part of the answer is to focus on creating a face to face network and events that meets the specific interests and specific concerns of older men, including around lifeskills, relationships, health, care and development. Another part of the answer is for the MB50 Network to deepen and widen the connections between us, allowing conversations to develop finding our voice as mature men and sharing ourselves with the world.

Finding our voice as mature men: both as a distinct voice among older people in general, and as a voice that expresses the gifts and issues of our dependency and interdependency as older men.

Sharing ourselves with the world: there is a real need for maturing men to speak up and be heard, and to speak out to different groups of both younger and older people.

These are the main reasons why the Men Beyond 50 Network is beginning a series of evening discussions under the title Maturing Men: a Growing Conversation. The next in London will be on Tuesday  June 18th (7-9pm): contact if you would like to attend and take part (and for further information).

Exploring the dependency and interdependency gifts and issues facing maturing men in the UK: for a 6 minute introductory briefing on ageing with really useful facts and helpful visuals, try this YouTube summary On Ageing Population in UK and Europe 1985 – 2010 project to 1935  (NB -Don’t be put off by the speaker’s really annoying  voice!)

Digging into these interconnected challenges facing maturing men in greater depth: if you are interested and are looking for reports, statistics, and analysis, I particularly recommend the well researched and authoritative guides issued by the National Audit Commission on the UK ageing population. You can find their latest (January 2013) briefing by clicking here:

The summary also provides links to x 6 very useful guides the National Audit Office has published since 2004 (NB they are all available to read online): Older People – A Changing Approach. Together the x6 reports tell us an important story of the changing 21st Century realities for older people:
1. The main aim of the first report (Feb 2004)was to begin to change our mind-set about ageing from thinking about dependency and deficit to looking at well-being and independence.

2. The second 2004 report explored in greater detail the need to recognise diversity and difference among older people’s interests and life experiences, especially in terms of income, ethnicity, sexuality… and gender  (including older men!).

3. The third report was aimed at briefing the public sector on how to meet the interconnected challenges of dependency and interdependency… also written in 2004… when there was still the expectation that there would always be a well funded public sector to provide the services.
4. The 2006 report was called ‘Living Well in Later Life’ and looked in greater detail at the specific future needs of the UK ‘baby boomers’ across 6 interconnected areas:

Social networks (including activities and ‘keeping busy’)
Getting out and about (transport)
Information (including online and social media)
Health and healthy living.

5. The 2008 report was called ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and looked at ways of implementing new approaches to meeting the complex challenges of dependency and interdependency facing older people.

6. The 2010 report was called ‘Under Pressure’ and began to own up to the gap between older people’s needs and what public services will be able to provide in future.

“How Can Local Authorities with Less Money Support Better Outcomes for Older People?”: this is the increasingly insoluble question being asked of the public sector by policy makers. Actually this question was also the title of a separate and recommended report from the UK Centre for Policy on Ageing (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Jan 2011, and also available to read online)- )

Meet, Talk… and Make Connections:
realize our potentials as older men
contribute to our communities as we support values, quality and growth
grow face-to-face social networks (supported by the virtual online medium)

YES, because we’re facing the 2020’s together and we can’t do it alone!

75% over 75 lonely and isolated

Aug 31 2012

According to the WRVS, 75% of men over 75 feel lonely and isolated. While the UK and other European countries implement austerity measures brought about by the previous financial and economic crisis of 2008, they are also faced with the challenge of an increasingly ageing population and its repercussions.

Ageing Across Europe, a report published by the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) in May 2012 reveals concerning trends amongst men over the age of 75, who are less likely to seek help for isolation and loneliness than women for a number of reasons, perhaps because men feel that they are indomitable and can therefore cope without seeking help.

The fact that this report was published by the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service speaks volumes, as does the fact that BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour also felt compelled to deliver a programme on the subject on 16 August 2012 featuring an interview with Matthew Sowemimo, Head of Policy for the WRVS and the story of one man’s experience following the death of his wife.

Whilst the findings highlight the extent to which these men are socially isolated and lonely, 85% of those surveyed said they feel better after seeing friends or family – that’s over 160,000 men. This is where an organisation such as Men Beyond 50 can really look to fill the gap and fulfil the need for altruistic services like this for men.

Here is a snapshot of the report’s findings from 190,000 British men over the age of 75 who live alone:

• 75% have never sought help for feelings of loneliness or isolation, despite 54% admitting to suffering from feelings of depression
• 62% feel lonely because either their partner has passed away or they have lost companions their own age (54%)
• 41% typically have two or fewer face to face conversations per day and 3% per cent have none
• 36% spend more than 12 hours per day without contact with anybody
• 36% cited a loss of confidence
• 26% have given up on their hobbies
• 21% do not leave the house for days at a time
• One in eight worry about their mental health because they have no-one to talk to

Experts agree universally that loneliness is a serious health issue, not least because older people who feel lonely and isolated are far more likely to develop illnesses and require hospital care. In this time of crisis for both the economy in the UK and the NHS, now more than ever is the time to encourage a national debate about how we can all help to make the UK a better place in which to age. It’s time to look at the policies and services of our European neighbours to see which are the most effective in providing older people with a decent quality of life in these challenging times.

As David McCullough, Chief Executive of the WRVS recently commented, “it is good to see that the Government and local authorities have made a commitment in the social care white paper for loneliness to be mapped in each area. This research shows how crucial it is for Health and Wellbeing boards to deliver on the targets for loneliness they have been set. Action is urgently needed on the ground now to make sure older people experiencing loneliness get the help they need.”

Would you like to join the WRVS Befriending Service? They are currently seeking male and female volunteers – given that their research demonstrates 85 per cent of men who are lonely say they have felt better after seeing friends or family, you could really make a difference to somebody’s life. Click here for further information.

Loneliness rife among older men – WRVS 26 July 2012

Aug 22 2012

Many men over 75 suffer from lack of social contact and depression

190,000 British men over 75, who live alone, are lonely according to WRVS research, which identified 36 per cent spend more than 12 hours of the day on their own.

The research found that these men are more likely to be lonely than women, however they are less likely to confide in friends and family about their feelings (11 per cent men, 24 per cent women).

The findings also highlight the extent to which these men are socially isolated with 41 per cent typically having two or less face to face conversations a day and one in 33 (three per cent) having none.

There is widespread agreement amongst experts that loneliness is a serious health issue because it makes it more likely that older people will develop illnesses that reach crisis level and need hospital care.

Worryingly, despite 54 per cent of men who feel lonely admitting to suffering from feelings of depression75 per cent of these men have never sought help for feelings of loneliness. As well as depression, another consequence of loneliness amongst both the older men and women surveyed was loss of confidence, which 36 per cent cited.

The survey revealed a range of reasons why older men feel lonely, but for many (62 per cent) it is because their partner has passed away or as a result of losing companions their own age (54 per cent).

On the release of the research WRVS is calling for more volunteers – male and female – to join our befriending service, after 85 per cent of men who are lonely said they feel better after seeing friends or family.

WRVS CEO David McCullough“These are stark findings. And, given the stigma attached to admitting to being lonely and needing help, this may even be an optimistic snapshot. We know that without our volunteers, visiting people in their homes, many older people wouldn’t see another person or even have a conversation from one week to the next and this can lead to debilitating feelings of extreme loneliness. That’s why we are calling for more people to come forward to volunteer and spend just a couple of hours a week, or whatever they can spare, to make a huge difference to the lives and well-being of older people in the community.”

David McCullough, Chief Executive, WRVS

Today’s research among men and women over 75 who live alone also shows that:

  • 13 per cent of older people don’t get out and about in their communities because they are unable to leave the house due to ill health; and 15 per cent cited having no one to accompany them and that they don’t like to go out alone.
  • As a result of feeling lonely 17 per cent of those surveyed said that they had lost touch with friends and 46 per cent said that they don’t go out as much; 26 per cent reported giving up on their hobbies because of feeling lonely.
  •  21 per cent of those who are lonely agreed that they don’t leave the house for days, nine per cent that they no longer eat properly.
  • One in eight older people who are lonely said they worry about their mental health because they have no-one to talk to.

These findings add to the mounting evidence showing that loneliness is a serious health problem for older people and one that is particularly acute in this country. A WRVS report , published in May 2012, showed that older people in the UK are the loneliest across four comparable European countries.

“It’s time that we all take this problem seriously and understand that the consequence of this kind of extreme loneliness is that older people end up in hospital unnecessarily because loneliness leads to a deterioration in their physical and mental well-being.

“It is good to see that the Government and local authorities have made a commitment in the social care white paper for loneliness to be mapped in each area. This research shows how crucial it is for Health and Wellbeing boards to deliver on the targets for loneliness they have been set. Action is urgently needed on the ground now to make sure older people experiencing loneliness get the help they need.”

David McCullough, Chief Executive, WRVS

For further information

WRVS is one of Britain’s leading age positive volunteering charities with more than 40,000 volunteers working to help make Britain a great place to grow old in.  If you are over the age of 14, we have volunteering opportunities in communities, in hospitals and in emergency situations.

Find out how you could become a WRVS volunteer, call 0845 601 4670 today or search for volunteering opportunities in your area. Or help make a difference by making a secure online donation to WRVS.


Lonely older men urged to seek help – Age UK July 2012

Aug 22 2012

Source : Press Association
Published on 26 July 2012 11:30 AM

Older people who find themselves increasingly isolated are being urged to reach out to close family members or their GP, after a survey found a rising number of men over the age of 75 whose lives are dominated by loneliness.

Almost 200,000 men in this age group are suffering in silence with extreme loneliness because of their ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude, according to research carried out on behalf of the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS).

The research – which focused on people over the age of 75 who live alone – found that 36% of men describe their situation as lonely or very lonely, compared to 31% of the women who were questioned. Yet men are less likely to seek help in such situations, according to the study.

The survey’s findings combined with recent figures from the Office for National Statistics showing the number of people living alone, suggest that there are more than 190,000 men over 75 who live in serious isolation in Britain.

An older man staring ahead.Loneliness link to ill health

The reluctance of men to seek help if they are lonely or isolated is a concern as various studies have shown that there is a strong link between loneliness and serious health problems. Research has shown that people in isolation are more likely to allow illness to develop unchecked until they reach crisis point.

Furthermore, a quarter of those surveyed who said they felt lonely said they do not leave their house for days on end and one in 10 said they are no longer eating properly.

But help is at hand for older people suffering with loneliness as there are a number of free services that can be accessed that provide company and companionship.

David McCullough, chief executive of the WRVS, said: ‘Sadly, while loneliness is fairly common among older men, it is something that once recognised can be addressed. We would encourage anyone who is feeling lonely to have a chat to their loved ones or to their GP.

‘There are many organisations like WRVS, with volunteers who can provide companionship, regular human contact and someone to chat with whether over a cup of tea, a drink in the pub, or a visit to the shops.’

What Age UK thinks and does

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK said: ‘Living in isolation and loneliness is a stark reality for too many older people and can have a significantly adverse effect on their physical and mental health; studies have proved it can be equivalent to well established risk factors such as obesity and smoking.

‘Disability, illness, problems with finances and lack of access to transportoften mean older people feel cut off from their family, friends and local community. No older person should suffer in silence especially as there is help available.

‘Age UK provides a national telephone befriending service while many Local Age UKs also provide their own befriending schemes, day centres, lunch clubs and digital training so that people can stay in touch. Call our free advice line on 0800 169 6565 or speak to your local Age UK.’

European Seniorforce Day: Harnessing the Power of Senior Volunteers

Aug 21 2012

The number of people over 60 is rising fast – in Europe and all over the world. Does that mean that we will be living in less vibrant communities no longer capable of meeting new challenges or providing good opportunities for young and old alike? Certainly not.

People in their sixties or over may be retired, but they have plenty to offer their families and communities. But much of this potential is still largely untapped. A 2008 Flash Eurobarometer survey found that almost three quarters of Europeans who had not yet retired would consider participating in community or volunteer work after retirement. However the actual proportion of retired people who do this is much lower.

There are so many problems to be tackled in our societies – and so much talent and experience in the older generations. The key question is how to mobilise this formidable force for the benefit of people of all ages? The idea behind European Seniorforce Day is to come up with answers to that question.

Every year, on 1 October, countries all over the world celebrate the InternationalDay of Older Persons. So this year, in the context of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012, public authorities and volunteer organisations all over Europe are invited to devote one day – either 1 October or any other day in October – to find new ways of engaging senior volunteers and making the most of their contributions.

European Seniorforce Day: Harnessing the Power of Senior VolunteersThere is plenty of scope for different events and activities: volunteer fairs, community action days (e.g. to improve a public space), young volunteers inviting older people to join in their activities (‘bring a buddy’) … You are bound to have other ideas of your own! Local volunteer groups could team up with local authorities to organise these events and to spread the word through the local media.

Share what you are doing with like-minded people all over Europe by informing the communications agency in charge of the European Year for Active Ageing 2012. Initiatives will be published on the official website.

Send an email with a short description of your planned activity to Your description should include:

  • Who: organisations behind the initiative
  • What: short description of proposed activity
  • Where: country and locality or community where the activity will take place
  • When: planned date in October 2012
  • Website of the initiative or the main organisation behind it
  • Contact person
  • Email address

The specific privacy statement explains how the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion and its subcontractor use data obtained through your e-mail and how the confidentiality of such data is protected.

Need more information? Please contact