Addressing loneliness and isolation in retirement housing

Journal article


Gray, A and Worlledge, G (2016). Addressing loneliness and isolation in retirement housing. Ageing and Society. 37, pp. 1-30.
AuthorsGray, A and Worlledge, G
Abstract

Loneliness is a significant health risk for older people, linked with bereavement, declining health and other factors. Previous research shows loneliness to be common amongst residents of English retirement housing, who also show a relatively high incidence of these vulnerability factors. This invites the question, what can housing providers do to help their residents avoid loneliness and thus remain healthier and less likely to need care services? The paper investigates the role of staff in developing social activities for residents which may help them to avoid isolation and loneliness. The literature on loneliness amongst older people and its causes is interrogated for pointers towards the types of activity which are likely to serve this objective, and also to identify reasons why housing providers, particularly those receiving public subsidy, should invest money in resources for social programmes which may help to address loneliness. The paper investigates the role of organised social programmes among older people in retirement housing and their potential for generating social contacts which may provide a pathway to avoid loneliness. It presents an internet-based survey of 326 retirement-estate managers employed across England by a major provider of age-restricted, mainly rented, housing schemes, in which most residents are in practice over 65. The sampled estates represent a sector also sometimes described as sheltered or supported housing, which has over 550,000 dwellings in the UK, housing at least 7% of the population over 60. From the literature review we identify a variety of needs for different types of social contact to develop friendships and social support. The fieldwork suggests that organised activities in retirement housing have considerable potential to provide such contact. But full realisation of this potential requires a wider range of activities, with support from housing management staff, outside volunteers and collaboration with other community organisations. Keywords: retirement housing, loneliness, isolation, social capital, friendships

Keywordsretirement housing, loneliness, isolation, social capital, friendships
Year2016
JournalAgeing and Society
Journal citation37, pp. 1-30
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISSN0144-686X
Publication dates
Print21 Nov 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited24 Apr 2017
Accepted21 Nov 2016
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY 4.0
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https://openresearch.lsbu.ac.uk/item/87164

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