Over Half Of 75-Year-Olds Live Alone In NI

Over half of 75-year-olds live alone in Northern Ireland and this could have serious health implications, according to a new study by Queen's University.

However, life expectancy is increasing and the fastest growing section of NI's population is older people.

The Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing (the NICOLA Study) is the largest public health study in NI looking at the health, lifestyles and socioeconomic circumstances of more than 8,000 people over 50 years of age, over a 10 year period.
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Living alone is twice as common in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas and three times as common in larger urban areas than in most rural areas. Loneliness is a major public health (and welfare) issue and its effects on the health of older people are as large as the effects of many biological risk factors such as high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Professor Frank Kee, Director of the Centre for Public Health at Queen's University Belfast and lead author, said: "Although the report presents only preliminary findings covering older people's social circumstances, their health behaviours and use of health services, there are some important results that have a bearing on government policies.

"As the study develops its value to policy makers will increase and will help government to evaluate a range of policies and keep us focussed on what counts for older people."


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