Lonely older people most miss having somebody to sit with, while almost half miss enjoying a hug, research shows.
A new poll of more than 1,000 over-65s who say they are lonely found it was simple things that people missed the most.
The survey, for the Campaign to End Loneliness, found people most missed sitting with somebody and just being together (mentioned by 52% of respondents). This was followed by having somebody to laugh with (51%), hugging (46%), eating together (35%), sharing a bed (31%) and holding hands (30%).
The activities that lonely people missed the most included going on holiday (44%), country walks (32%), socialising outside the home (31%), restaurants (26%), going to the pub (17%) and entertaining guests (16%).
The Campaign to End Loneliness says a million older people in the UK suffer from chronic loneliness.
Its director, Laura Alcock-Ferguson, said: “Meaningful social connections are essential for human happiness.
“We want to make loneliness everyone’s business and show that we can all play a role in combating loneliness in their community, whether as an organisation or an individual.
“At a national level, we’re calling for the development of a UK-wide strategy for tackling loneliness and social isolation to help end this growing crisis.
“Health and wellbeing boards also have a big role to play, and it is vital that every board in the country put in place a clear action plan with measurable targets for reducing loneliness in their local population.”
Janet Morrison, chief executive of the charity Independent Age and founding member of the Campaign to End Loneliness, said: “Over two million people aged 75 and over live alone in Great Britain.
“We know that living alone can contribute to feelings of loneliness, particularly when people have to spend special occasions, such as Christmas, alone.
“Our latest, free advice guide, called ‘If you’re feeling lonely’, aims to help older people and their families identify why they might feel lonely, and offers tips for simple steps they can take to reduce loneliness and help build confidence.”