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Scotland has highest percentage of single-person households in the UK

Older person at home alone

21 June 2024

Age Scotland has responded to latest NRS figures, which reveal Scotland has the highest percentage of single-person households in the UK - likely driven by the country's ageing population.

The charity's Chief Executive, Katherine Crawford, said:

“We know that older people are more likely to live alone for a variety of reasons, such as bereavement or children and family members moving away.

“With an ageing population and the highest percentage of single-person households in the UK, it’s vital that we support older people in Scotland to live well and safely in their own home, and that they have sufficient income to do so. 

"Many older people are stuck living in unsuitable accommodation and unable to move or downsize if they wish. Providing more affordable, adaptable, energy-efficient homes will allow people to continue living independently in their communities. 

“Ensuring older people are able to stay connected to communities, services and people – both in person and digitally where possible - is also vital in tackling the acute issues of loneliness and social isolation both now and in the future.

“Our research has revealed that more than half of over 50s in Scotland experience loneliness, with those who live alone more likely to feel lonely all or most of the time. 47% of over 50s are also spending less money on socialising due to the cost-of-living crisis.

“We know this is exacerbated in rural areas and for those in certain demographics, so it is vital that strategies to address loneliness take this into consideration. 

“For those living alone or experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation, there is thankfully a huge amount of community support out there. Older people’s community groups play a vital role, and we would urge the Scottish Government, local authorities, funders, politicians and other partners to ensure they have the resources and support they need to continue the invaluable work they do. 

“Age Scotland’s free friendship line and community connecting service can also support older people with weekly friendship calls and linking up to local groups and activities. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0800 12 44 222. 

“We can also all play a part in tackling loneliness in our own community, whether that be by volunteering or reaching out to older friends, relatives or neighbours – this can be particularly welcome if you know they live alone and may not have a support system around them.”