Social care services and communities must act fast to support the rising number of people living alone, a charity has warned.
The number of people living alone is projected to rise by 39% to 10.7 million by 2039, according to a new study from the Office of National Statistics, which reveals a negative impact on well-being in older adults.
While the number of people aged 25 to 44 living alone has fallen by 16% between 1997 and 2017, the number of 45 to 64-year-olds living on their own has increased by 53% over the same period.
This increase is partly due to the large number of children born in the 1960s reaching this age, but may also be down to a change in our relationships: more people in this age group are divorced or single than there were 15 years ago.
Responding to the recent figures, Dr Aideen Young, evidence manager for the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “These latest figures show a huge increase in the number of people in mid-life who live on their own. They suggest that people’s circumstances are changing as they age, and for many will be dramatically different to those of their parents and grandparents.
“As a society, we need to make sure that the way our services and communities operate takes this into account. More people living alone has implications for people’s cost of living, the type of housing they need, and the kind of care and support they might need in later life, in the absence of help from those they live with.
“There’s also a potential risk that by living alone more people will be socially isolated, so we need strong communities that support people to age well.”
The number of people living on their own went up by 16% to 7.7 million between 1997 and 2017, while the UK population increased by only 13%. By 2039, the number of one-person households is projected to rise to 10.7 million, the ONS revealed.
The majority (60%) of people aged 25 to 64 who live alone are men, but the gap between the sexes narrows as age increases.
The study also found that when it comes to wellbeing, those living on their own report lower levels of happiness and higher levels of anxiety than those living with a partner and no children.