The TV or a pet is the main form of company for thousands of older people in the UK, a comprehensive new survey has found.
Charity Age UK has found that over one million people aged 65-plus in Britain describe themselves as always or often feeling lonely, up on last year, and two in five (41%) say their TV or pet is now their main form of company.
The charity is calling for donations to help fight loneliness through its vital national and local services.
Nearly a third (30%) of older people said they would like to go out more often.
Age UK’s research also reveals that one in eight people (12%) aged 65-plus are feeling cut off from society.
Loneliness can be seriously damaging and recent studies have shown it has double the impact of obesity and that feeling extreme loneliness can increase an older person's chances of premature death by 14 per cent.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "At Age UK we know how devastating loneliness can be for older people and these figures are another reminder of the scale of this issue.
"Loneliness not only makes life miserable for older people it is also really bad for their health making them more vulnerable to illness and disease.
"It is time to take loneliness seriously and that’s why we’re asking everyone to take action by donating today to help us carry on supporting older people to make the most out of later life.
"Voluntary sector services like Age UK’s have never been more important because funding cuts are forcing many of the local services that help older people stay connected, such as lunch clubs, to scale down or close."
Age UK is helping to tackle loneliness by supporting a range of services such as befriending which might include home visits and telephone calls for people who are feeling lonely or isolated.
To help Age UK end loneliness people can donate by calling 0800 169 8787 or texting HELLO to 70004 to donate £3. Alternatively people can go to www.ageuk.org.uk/get-involved/loneliness
Older people and their families can get in touch with Age UK to see how the Charity could help someone who may be feeling lonely by calling Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65.