Unwanted loneliness is a pressing social issue affecting a substantial segment of the Spanish population, with heightened concerns during Christmas. According to the State Observatory, this issue was estimated to have cost Spain a staggering 14.141 billion euros in 2021.
To confront this challenge, extensive studies and surveys have been conducted to shed light on the perception of unwanted loneliness within the country.
One of the key factors contributing to involuntary loneliness, identified in 57% of cases, is the lack of cohabitation and familial or social support. This deficit can be attributed to various factors:
- family members living far away (11.9%),
- discontinuation of previous living arrangements (10.5%),
- feeling misunderstood by those around them (8.5%).
Significant societal issue
Notably, 93% of survey respondents recognize unwanted loneliness as a significant societal issue. Nine out of ten individuals believe that anyone can experience unwanted loneliness at some point in their lives. Consequently, highlighting the pervasiveness of the problem.
Additionally, seven out of ten people are aware of family members, friends, acquaintances, or neighbors who may be suffering from unwanted loneliness. However, it is deeply concerning that one in ten people lack any form of assistance, a figure that is notably higher among young people and men. Loneliness is often associated with age, with 87% of individuals considering older people more vulnerable. Furthermore, 36% link loneliness to a lack of close relationships or family ties.
In addressing this issue, the report underscores the significance of implementing measures to combat unwanted loneliness. A substantial 72% of respondents believe that the government should prioritize this matter, while 81% advocate for increased media attention.
In this context, organizations such as the Red Cross, Friends of the Elderly, and Adopt a Grandparent play pivotal roles in the battle against unwanted loneliness. Marcos Calvo is responsible for the Red Cross’ ‘Te Acompaña‘ (I Accompany You) service. He emphasizes their year-round availability to support lonely individuals. They are providing emotional support and specialized services as needed.
Friends of the Elderly similarly offers emotional guidance to elderly people experiencing loneliness throughout the year. This organisation emphasizes the importance of engagement and continuity for the well-being of older individuals.
Adopt a Grandparent Foundation
The Adopt a Grandparent Foundation offers a volunteer program aimed at mentoring seniors. This can be done both in person and through confidential telephone or video calls. Additionally, their ‘A Letter for a Grandpa’ campaign provides a unique way to maintain connections with the elderly during Christmas.
Volunteering emerges as an antidote to loneliness. Research suggests that it has positive effects on social relationships and can help combat unwanted loneliness. Encouragingly, 60% of respondents who had not previously volunteered expressed a willingness to do so to address this issue.