Older people are in the grip of a "loneliness epidemic" that is leaving Britain's average over 65-year-old facing more than 100 days a year alone, a study found today.
A quarter of over-65s feel lonely some or most of the time and one in five over-75s go a full weekend without seeing and speaking to another person, according to a survey of over 1,000 elderly people for the Associated Retirement Community Operators (Arco).
Arco chairman Jon Gooding said older people need access to a variety of housing options to overcome loneliness.
And Campaign to End Loneliness director Laura Ferguson warned: "Loneliness is as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than obesity."
She urged people concerned about the issue to contact NHS health and wellbeing boards set to be introduced on April 1 that will make decisions about future services for older people.
Foreign Minister Alistair Burt's admission that the Cameron government has "supported" a survey of attitudes to US drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas amounts to a tacit admission of British involvement.