Cornwall’s Lib Dem MPs have announced an official drive to cut down OAP loneliness – on the National Health Service.
Andrew George, Steve Gilbert and Dan Rogerson have joined forces to flag up the loneliness of what they estimate to be 13,500 Cornish pensioners.
A spokesman for the lobby explained: “More than 13,000 pensioners in Cornwall could be suffering physical and mental health problems from being lonely.
“This is a major health and care issue.
“Our three MPs welcome the news that the Coalition government will be working with the care and support sector to develop “measures of loneliness”.
“This will help identify people at risk of social isolation, and help older people in Cornwall to receive the help and support they need to re-connect to their communities.”
The MPs arrive at the “13,500 lonely pensioners” estimate by grafting the results of “national and international” studies that say one out of ten over 65s are lonely.
North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson said of the drive: “If we don’t start to champion loneliness as a health and care issue, elderly people in Cornwall will continue to have their lives cut short.
Stephen Gilbert, MP for St Austell and Newquay added: “Earlier this year Lib Dem ministers Steve Webb and Paul Burstow hosted the first ever summit on loneliness amongst older people.
“We intend to join them in highlighting the importance of this issue both in Cornwall and in Coalition Government.
Andrew George, MP for St Ives, said: “With increasing emphasis, not to say budgetary incentives, to enable more older people to be able to stay in their homes rather than institutional care, the risk and problems of loneliness is greater now than ever before.
“We must do more to provide people with the social contact they need to stay physically and mentally well.”
The lonely OAPs initiative is a big Lib Dem thing.
Lib Dem Minister for Care Services Paul Burstow MP is behind it.
Paul claimed: “Loneliness is one of society’s unspoken problems.
“Far too many people live alone, without day to day contact with friends, family and neighbours.
”Not only is it morally right that we reach out to each other and make sure no one lives in isolation, but research shows that loneliness has as direct an influence on mortality as the effects of alcohol and tobacco.”
There’ve been academic surveys of ‘loneliness’ and its heath effects.
The University of California found “loneliness can increase the risk of death amongst the over 60s by almost 10 per cent”
Similar research blamed blood clots, heart disease, overeating, drinking and lack of exercise on having no friends.
And a 2006 study of 3,000 nurses with breast cancer found women without close friends were four times more likely to die than women with 10 or more friends.
Family rights activist Richard Adams questioned the initiative.
Richard, who campaigns with Cornish supporters against the encroachment of the state into family life, explained: “This is another well intentioned idea.
“It sounds lovely. And tackling social isolation is something no-one could disapprove of.
“But many people believe – in fact – it’s obvious to most people – that the reason a lot of older people are stranded later in life is the collapse of the family.
“And the sad fact is the family hasn’t collapsed at all: it was getting along fine, in various progressive forms, until the state destroyed it.”
The veteran campaigner added: “This is why the idea of getting the state more involved in family life and deeply personal issues like ‘loneliness’ is doomed to make things worse.
“From ordinary people’s perspective – it’s like this: imagine you’re being bullied by a group of thugs.
“One of them smashes your face in, and then a smaller weaker knocks on your door at home and offers to come in and put a plaster on.
“The plaster’s a nice gesture – but you really want them all to mend their ways, and stop hitting you – or just go away.”
What do you think about this novel initiative from the LIb Dems? Typical Liberal Fluff? Or Sound Welfare Plan? Let us know! Just post below!