|Samantha Acton of Domestic Angels|
David Halpern, whose Behavioural Insight Team advises the Prime Minister on the Big Society agenda, says loneliness is more deadly than smoking for pensioners and that maintaining strong social relationships such as those in the workplace improves quality of life.
But Samantha Acton, owner of Domestic Angels, says: “Using loneliness to justify increasing the retirement age is grasping at straws. Loneliness is depressing and depression is the killer.
“If Mr Halpern genuinely wants to address the massive issue of loneliness amongst pensioners, he would be looking to maximise the good work carried out by many charitable organisations. They reach out to those affected by loneliness and in turn these people become involved in either the same or other charitable work – all of which is very much in-line with the so-called Big Society and becomes self- perpetuating success.”
Samantha also works with Southbourne Creative Hub and has been interviewed by researchers from the National Development Team for Inclusion as part of a project funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation social research charity for the European Year of Active Aging and Solidarity between the Ages.
“Being happy is the objective, and on the whole loneliness doesn’t result in happiness,” she says. “Humans are social animals and we spend the majority of our lives with purpose and social interaction. Retirement and the downsides of ageing can take both of these crucial elements away.”