More men experiencing isolation in old age – BBC report
Men are often reluctant to join clubs for older people, says the study by the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) and the charity, Independent Age.
It predicts the number of older men living alone in England will increase by 65% by 2030.
“When their partner dies, often a man’s social life shrinks,” said Independent Age chief executive Janet Morrison.
The report: The Emerging Crisis for Older Men, says older women will still be more likely to outlive their husbands but, by 2030, growing numbers of men will outlive their wives.
The analysis of recent data from the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing suggests 1.5 million older men will be living alone by 2030 – up from 911,000 today.
Older men often also have less contact with family and friends than women of a similar age, meaning they are often more socially isolated once their spouse dies, says the study.
“The house was always full of kids,” 73-year-old John, whose wife died five years ago, told researchers.
“Women keep the family together and people rally around them”.
“When women die, people drift away from the man left behind.”
Evidence suggests men and women experience social isolation in different ways, says the report, with men less likely to ask for support.
Read the rest of the report here
Recommended Film for older men: Song for Marion
- MB50 Team
Song for Marion: this film has powerful lessons for older men
This is an intense, moving, ultimately hopeful film, and it’s a superb example of the bogs of anger and self-isolation that many older men get stuck in.
The film’s focus is an elderly couple, played to perfection by Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp. One of the delights of this movie for us oldies is to see two great stars still in their prime as they themselves get well into old age.
Like me, you may remember vividly Terence Stamp as Sergeant Troy in Far From the Madding Crowd. Here, as Arthur, there’s a powerful mix of character, strength, and decay. Arthur has clearly spent most of his adult life in anger, resentment, and deep fear of opening up to others – even his son, convincingly played by Christopher Ecclestone.
One of the shocks of the film is to see how much Terence Stamp has aged: now he’s white-haired and balding. It’s useful for us oldies in the audience to turn this back on ourselves, and give ourselves loving, acceptance as we age.
Marion, played by Vanessa Redgrave, is Arthur’s wife: she loves him as he is, and makes his life work: for example, she’s the one who keeps the family talking to each other. As her health declines, we see one of the classic shipwrecks for older men: Arthur has depended on her social skills, and without them, he digs himself deeper into isolation and depression.
One of the few times we see Arthur cheerful is on his weekly night out at the pub with a few male friends. But he doesn’t know how to reach out to them, and vice versa. Arthur’s recovery from the shipwreck arises from unexpected sources, which I won’t reveal.
Some reviewers have disliked this film as sentimental: I believe that’s overlooking the real depth of the main characters and their interaction. Parts of the film are annoyingly flimsy, but they at least soften the gut-wrenching impact of the central drama. I’d urge you to see it, and don’t be ashamed to take a fresh handkerchief.