Loneliness is the biggest retirement worry for UK adults

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Julia Grimes
Published: 14 Aug 2019 Updated: 14 Aug 2019
  • Being lonely, and losing touch with friends and colleagues is one of the main concerns for Brits looking ahead to the future
  • Financial concerns including returning to work to cover a financial shortfall is also a major concern
  • Analysis finds adults aged over 50 are 2.3 times more likely to be lonely if they have money issues

Loneliness is the biggest retirement worry for UK adults according to new research from wealth management group Tilney.

The study*, which reveals the nation’s biggest retirement fears, found that a quarter of Brits (24%) admit that loneliness, followed by having to work to cover a financial shortfall (23%), and relying on the state for long-term care (23%) are their major woes looking ahead to the future. Having a lack of purpose (21%) and losing touch with friends and colleagues (13%) also made the list.

And the fear of being alone when work no longer forms a major part of one’s life, is felt most keenly among 18-24 year olds. The research showed that almost a third of this age group (31%) were significantly more concerned than any other age group.

Those aged 35-44 fear having to work either part or full time to cover a financial shortfall (27%). While the older age groups - 45 and over- are troubled more about having to rely on the state for long-term care; 26% of 45-54 year olds and 25% of 55-64 year olds. Interestingly, a lack of purpose was cited as one of the biggest worries about retirement by a third (31%) of those aged over 65.

Jason Hollands, Managing Director at Tilney said: “Loneliness can be triggered by a variety of factors from losing a loved one or the breakdown of a relationship, to not having the opportunity to meet new people or afford new experiences. And, in most cases, these events tend to occur later in life. But our research points to a growing concern amongst younger age groups who, rather than being preoccupied about the financial implication of no longer receiving an income from employment, are concerned about the lack of companionship this future life stage may lead to.

Those in or nearing retirement can be particularly vulnerable to loneliness - with financial concerns having a major impact and children having flown the nest - but the fact that this is a pressing concern for those at the start of their working lives suggests the importance of being well prepared for a change in circumstances."

Despite having their working life ahead of them, millennials are more likely to worry about becoming a financial burden on their family (24%) than those aged 55+ (11%).

The study follows analysis[1] of the English Longitudinal Study of Aging by Age UK, which found that people aged over 50 and living in England are 2.3 times more likely to be lonely if they have money issues that prevent them doing things they want to do.

More than a quarter (26%) of UK adults say they have no worries about retirement, despite admitting they have spoken to a financial adviser.

Hollands continues:

“A key weapon in fighting loneliness in later life is financial security. Having money set aside to do the things you enjoy throughout your retirement enables you to get out of the home, socialise, take holidays and be involved with others. For those with care needs, it also enables at-home help, avoiding the isolation-trap that those with limited physical abilities fear falling into.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to retirement planning. Some retirees want to travel the world or take up a new hobby. Others see it as an opportunity to volunteer, start their own business or undergo further education. Whatever the aspiration, a clear financial plan is imperative, and identifying retirement worries and aspirations should be an essential part of this process.“

Biggest retirement worries:

  1. Being lonely - 24 %
  2. Having to work part/full time to cover a financial shortfall - 23 %
  3. Having to rely on the state for long-term care - 23 %
  4. A lack of purpose - 21 %
  5. Being unable to give financial support to family members - 18 %
  6. Becoming a financial burden on my family - 18 %
  7. Having to use savings I had hoped to pass on as inheritance - 14 %
  8. Losing touch with colleagues and friends - 13 %
  9. A loss of status due to tighter financial circumstances - 10 %
  10. Having to downsize the family home - 9 %


*Tilney commissioned an online poll of a representative sample of 2001 UK adults between 12th – 15th July 2019.

[1] https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/reports-and-briefings/loneliness/loneliness-report_final_2409.pdf


This release was previously published on Tilney Smith & Williamson prior to the launch of Evelyn Partners.