THE chief nursing officer for the NHS said loneliness and isolation pose a threat to physical and mental health for people of all ages.
Professor Jane Cummings has warned of the ‘lethal’ combination of loneliness and cold weather this winter.
Her message comes as Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is promoting its Stay Well This Winter campaign.
The campaign is aiming to promote good health and protect vulnerable people over the winter months.
Evidence shows being alone and feeling isolated increases the risk of premature death by around a third.
Also, a third of people who report loneliness have long-term health conditions which make them more vulnerable to the effects of cold weather.
Dr Linda Collie, chief clinical officer for Portsmouth CCG, said: ‘The number of hospital admissions is linked to colder weather circulating viral infections, including flu.
‘Older people who may be frail, or who have existing health conditions, are particularly at risk.
‘Half of people aged 75 and over live alone, around two million people, and many say they go days or even weeks with no social interaction at all.’
Research suggests lonely people have a 64 per cent increased chance of developing clinical dementia and are more prone to depression.
People of all ages can be affected by loneliness. For example, a third of new mums claim to be lonely and eight out of 10 carers have felt lonely or isolated looking after loved ones.