Being alone as hazardous to health as smoking 15 cigarettes every day
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The effect of loneliness on health is equal to that of obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day, say experts.
They said being alone could hasten dementia and increase the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, the Sun reported.
Research revealed that half of all people aged 75 or over live alone and at least one in ten of the ten million over-65s in Britain is badly affected by solitude.
Five million elderly, half of that number, said television is their main companion and more than half a million, 600,000, admitted that they leave their house less than once a week.
Recent research by WRVS, a charity helping older people, identified nearly 400,000 elderly people who say they have children who are too busy to see them.
And the further away from their elderly parents the children live, the worse the situation becomes.
The WRVS research showed that for ten per cent of parents over 75, their nearest child lives more than an hours drive away.
And of those, almost half are visited only once every two to six months.
Though Christmas is supposed to be a time for friends and family, many older people will spend it alone, said WRVS chief executive David McCullough.