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Monday, 02 October 2017

March of technology has intensified loneliness felt by elderly people - Joanna Lumley

Written by The Press Association

Joanna Lumley has said technology in modern life has "intensified" the loneliness felt by elderly people.

The actress, 71, said the art of "everyday chit-chat" is at risk of dying out, pointing out that people on Tube trains tend to be "staring at their screens, not looking at each other".

Lumley, who said she counts herself as "an old person", said she does not use self-service checkouts in the supermarket as she prefers to queue at the till for "the pure joy of the human contact it involves".

The star told The Sunday Telegraph: "My friends and I have often spoken of a plan: rather than reach the stage where we're old and alone, we'd prefer to live together; to buy a big house, bring in a housekeeper to look after us all, and enjoy our twilight years in good company. 'Let's not get old alone', we have said.

"But so many people do. And as modern life has become ever more digitised, the loneliness of the elderly has intensified. The advance of technology makes many of us feel more connected, but for those who don't use it, it's a different story."

She added: "If you want to do banking now, you're encouraged to do it online, where in the past it seemed so easy just to write a letter to your bank manager.

"What do grannies do when they want to send a birthday cheque to their grandson in a world where everything is online?

"Making bookings tends to happen largely on the internet now, too. Those who still wish to carry out their business by telephone will frequently be left hanging on for so long they'll start worrying about their phone bill skyrocketing."

Lumley said public debate was full of "young people's issues" such as GCSE grades, A-level results and universities.

"This was, of course, not always the case. When I was young, no newspapers wrung their hands endlessly over our grades: we were still schoolchildren.

"Somehow the present passion for youth has stolen today's headlines.

"So where do old people fit into this society? Those who are grandparents have their designated part to play, but what about those who are not?

"These are often the people who don't know how to make contact with others and feel vulnerable and lonely. This, in turn, makes them less likely to go out and make friends," she said.

Lumley's views were published by the Telegraph on Silver Sunday, a day of free events and activities for older people.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA Wire.