International research indicates that a worrying number of elderly people are cutting themselves off from the community and lacking in everyday human communication.
A report based on research carried out on older residents in Japan found that between ten and 20 per cent tend to remain in their homes for days on end, despite having no major health problems.
The study warned that leaving them to become bedridden was unacceptable and that families and governments should ensure that they are encouraged to leave the house and interact with other people.
Although focussing on elderly people in Japan, the figures have a wider international impact and suggest that a number of older residents in the UK could be lacking adequate interaction as well.
Recent studies indicated that gentle exercise such as walking or gardening could help to reduce the risk of suffering from dementia, while increased communication and interaction is known to increase positive feelings.