Research Reveals Technology Can Help Elders Tackle Chronic Loneliness

Vodafone to host free tech master classes across the UK to help seniors connect to their communities

20th March 2019, London: Vodafone has announced a series of free ‘TechConnect’ master classes in a bid to help elders feel confident in using new technology and help them stay connected to their communities for longer.

The announcement responds to new research conducted by Vodafone which found that over 1.5 million people in the UK aged 50 years and older suffer with ‘chronic loneliness’. The report ‘Harnessing technology to tackle loneliness’ suggests that technology can play a vital role in alleviating loneliness in older people by keeping them connected to their home, family and friends.

According to ONS data, a third of those aged 65 or older identified themselves as only “a little confident” or “not confident at all” in their ability to use electronic devices for essential online activities.

The new findings suggest that technology can be used alongside more traditional community services to facilitate social interaction and that learning how to use it more fully can reduce loneliness and promote active ageing. This can help to support older people to remain independent in their home and community, increasing confidence and the likelihood of positive interactions. It can also help to maintain and build networks and contacts – with technology used as a way of keeping in touch with friends and family and accessing new networks, communities and groups.

Minister for Loneliness Mims Davies said:

Loneliness is one of the most pressing public health challenges we face and technology has a huge role to play in bringing people together. Businesses, charities and government are working together to reduce loneliness and build more connected communities. Vodafone's work highlights how digital tech can be a part of the solution.

Nick Jeffery, CEO, Vodafone UK said:

The cost of loneliness to the individual, their friends and the economy is vast. This cost is financial, emotional and physical. It requires a comprehensive response from government, charities, the health system and businesses. With an increasingly ageing population we have to act quickly and work together to help solve the problem of loneliness. Our report shows how technology and innovation, such as smart devices, as well as teaching tech skills can play an important role in reducing loneliness and enabling people to live independently for longer.

‘Harnessing technology to tackle loneliness’ reveals insights into the impact on individuals, employers and the cost to public services such as the NHS. Public services bear a financial cost of £1 billion a year, with studies conducted at GP surgeries indicating that those feeling lonely are twice as likely to visit their GP and 3.5 times more likely to enter local authority funded social care. For businesses the financial cost of loneliness in the over 50s is £800 million per year due to staff taking time off work to care for friends and family suffering from loneliness

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