Shocking report discovers shopping self-checkouts may be contributing to 'chronic' loneliness amongst elderly

Written by Samantha Lade for DonateToday

PUBLISHED: 12:35, 21st Nov 2017 | UPDATED: 15:22, 27th Nov 2017

1.2 million suffer from chronic loneliness in the UK, which is linked to poor physical and mental health. Stock image of model

One in four elderly people are put off shopping because of ‘intimidating’ and ‘unfriendly’ automated checkouts, it has been revealed.

The recent survey by Anchor – a housing charity for elderly people – also uncovered that a quarter of older people living in the UK feel shut out by modern, ‘inaccessible’ high streets.

A lack of seating and the decreasing chance to have a chat with someone behind the till are just some of the reasons behind these stark statistics. 

Anchor now suggest there is a ‘dire need for the high street to reinvent itself’ for these disengaged elderly shoppers – as annual losses of up to £4.5 billion pounds by 2030 are predicted if current trends continue.

The charity has also issued a warning that social exclusion from high streets – which were once the hub of the local community – may have severe impacts on the health and wellbeing of our elderly population.

The emotional isolation and social loneliness felt by those who do not feel able to go out shopping may dramatically increase. 

The report, carried out by the Centre for Future Studies, shows that currently, 1.2 million people in the UK suffer from ‘chronic’ loneliness. Futhermore, over half of all people aged 75 or over in the UK live alone.

Chronic loneliness has been found to have seriously adverse effects on mental health and wellbeing, susceptibility to physical illnesses such as heart disease and high blood pressure, and even on mortality rates. 

Now that dehumanised self-checkouts are more prominent than ever, many older people who do go out shopping can go an entire day without saying 'hello' to a single person.

"41% of over 65's feel out of touch with the pace of modern life and 12% say they feel cut off from society."

- Centre for Future Studies & Anchor | 2017

Jane Ashcroft CBE, Anchor’s Chief Executive, said: ‘Going shopping is something most of us take for granted and yet many thousands of older people feel excluded from our high streets. This is an issue not to be overlooked, as it increases older people’s isolation and loneliness, in turn affecting health and wellbeing.

‘We must value older people - everyone should have the chance to live life to the fullest, regardless of age.’

Anchor have also used the report – which found that almost two-thirds of older people who go shopping are concerned by the lack of seating available – to highlight the importance of their 'Standing Up 4 Sitting Down' campaign.

The campaign calls to increase seating in the high street to decrease feelings of anxiety, tiredness, pains and aching, which older people regularly face when out and about for longer periods of time.