One in five frail elderly people in New Zealand suffer from chronic loneliness according to a new study.
In a world first over seventy thousand people, with an average age of 83, have been surveyed for a study on aging by the University of Otago, Christchurch.
The findings show twenty percent of people, or over 15,000 people reported extreme loneliness.
Researcher and Geriatrician Dr Hamish Jamieson says "It is a sad and frustrating statistic, some people can have many weeks where they're not getting a phone call, any neighbours visiting, or anything like that. They're isolated.
Christchurch resident Yvonne King, 89, told 1 NEWS "I sit there and think if only someone would come and see me - the TV is my friend".
Age Concern Canterbury isn't surprised by the findings, and has seen a spike in demand for their social services, with a 440% increase in those wanting to attend a series of fortnightly café groups for some company and to get out of the house.
CEO Simon Templeton says "I would say this is the largest issue facing people in our society.
Researchers say the Government needs to provide more financial support to help address this growing social issue, especially give the impact it has on physical as well as mental health.
90 year old Mina Davenport says "You do get very lonely when you lose your friends, telephone calls are fewer, actual knocks on your door are fewer... but that is life".