Maps showing the loneliest places in the UK are to be created, the health secretary has announced.
Jeremy Hunt claims the move will lead to better care for people feeling social isolation and he will ask local authorities to identify areas where older people suffer most acutely from loneliness.
Research shows that loneliness increases the risk of heart disease, puts people at greater risk of blood clots and dementia, makes them less likely to exercise and more likely to drink more, a Department of Health spokeswoman said.
Mr Hunt said: “Tackling loneliness, by giving people better care and improved services, is another step towards making the UK one of the best places to live in Europe for older people.
“We need a measure of loneliness to shine a light on this problem and to know what we are dealing with.
“Once we have this solid evidence, local communities will have new tools to come up with the right, targeted solutions to the problem.”
Mr Hunt is also announcing a £20m fund to help older people stay warm over the winter months. Council projects to help vulnerable people keep warm will receive a share of the money.