Divorced and never married men are particularly susceptible to social isolation, poor health, risk behaviours (e.g. smoking and drinking) and material disadvantage than married older men and now new research suggests that gay men are more likely to be lonely in old age than straight men because they are less likely to have children and see family relations.
The issue of social isolation not only has an impact on the quality of individual men’s lives but as presents a potential ‘care crisis’ for health and social care services as those men living alone are more likely to need support form their GPs and older people’s services which may not be focussed on meeting the specific needs of older men – whatever their sexuality.
One new approach to supporting older men is The Men’s Sheds movement – a concept born in Australia but now starting to grow in the UK. Men’s sheds are local facilities that can help connect men with their communities and mainstream society and help men with issues like poor health, isolation, loneliness and depression whilst acting as a catalyst in stimulating their community’s economic activities.
The Men’s Sheds movement in England will be one of the projects showcased at The First National Conference for Men and Boys that The Men’s Network is hosting in November and is the subject of a Discovering Men’s Sheds conference in Leicester later this month – click here for details.
The question that this new research presents is – is it time to open the world’s first Gay Men’s Shed?
To read more on YouGov’s research into the experience of older gay men see the media links below: