The number of lonely elderly people can be brought down if they are given proper internet training by the Government, a think tank has said.
Policy Exchange said four out of 10 people aged over 65 did not have internet access at home, but training them how to use software like Skype or instant messenger would only cost £141 per person.
The overall cost of education OAPs in how to use the internet, 6.2 million, would be offset by the "huge" economic and social benefits for the UK, the think-tank said.
Tackling isolation could prove to be one of the most effective strategies for countering the rising costs of caring for an ageing population, the think-tank said.
The initial investment in training would be offset by savings of around £1.7 billion a year as people moved to digital rather than paper-based and telephone transactions, it added.
- Domestic violence among elderly couples was brought into focus by the death of 81-year-old Mary Russell in 2010.
- Mary died of a bleed to the brain following a "domestic related" incident but is believed to have suffered abuse for some time.
- Mrs Russell, of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, made eight 999 calls in the seven months before she died.
- She first reported violence to police in 2003, when she was found standing on her doorstep with blood pouring from her nose by a neighbour.
- Her husband, Albert Russell, was arrested after his wife's death but it was decided that there was not enough evidence to prosecute the 88-year-old, who has since died.
- A serious case review found police were failing to deal with the hidden problem of domestic violence among elderly couples.
Elderly domestic abuse victims are at danger of more frequent and intense bouts of violence, according to fresh guidelines from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
New draft guidance from the CPS warned the stress of caring for an ill partner in later life could also lead to increased domestic violence.
The situation was often exacerbated by mental and physical frailty and isolation brought on by old age.
Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said: "We know from research conducted by others that there is very little evidence that partner violence decreases with age, and it is important we also recognise the factors that may contribute to and impact upon domestic abuse between older people."
Malnutrition afflicts 70 per cent of older people living at home and is estimated to affect about 45 per cent of Alzheimer sufferers.
Age UK estimates that 1.3 million people over 65 suffer from malnutrition, with the vast majority of those - 93 per cent - living in the community.
Almost 10 per cent of older people living at home are affected by malnutrition, 30 per cent living in care homes and 70 per cent of older people in hospital, according to a report from Alzheimer's Disease International and the Compass Group.
"Consequences include frailty, reduced mobility, skin fragility, an increased risk of falls and fractures, exacerbation of health conditions and increased mortality," said the report.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that too many elderly people were ending up in hospital because of the flawed GP contracts introduced by the Labour government.
Mr Hunt told the Daily Telegraph: “Labour’s disastrous 2004 GP contract left many vulnerable elderly patients without good out-of-hours care, so it’s rank hypocrisy for them now to complain about the consequences of their historic mistake.
"We have ripped up that contract and are bringing back proper family doctoring, with named GPs for older people to help relieve A&E pressures.”
He added that they allowed family doctors to abandon responsibility for out-of-hours care.
Age UK has said that some of those admitted to hospital is a consequence of "not getting good quality care at home".
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "It is important that older people receive the treatment and care they need and sometimes this means going to hospital.
"However we know that in some cases being admitted to hospital is the consequence of not getting good quality care at home."
Access to high quality social care is increasingly difficult as many vital services are withdrawn or reduced as a result of the current crisis in care.
"The core of the problem is that funding for social care has failed and is still failing to keep up with growing demand. Legislative reform is vital but pointless unless sufficient funding is in place."
Labour said the ambulance figures confirm that cuts to social care funding are driving up the need for hospital attention among the elderly.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said data in the House of Commons library shows that local authority spending on adult social care has been cut by £1.8bn since 2009/10.
He said: "These shocking figures expose the growing crisis in older people's care on David Cameron's watch.
"The Government's severe cuts to social care have left thousands of older people without the support they need - at risk of going into hospital and getting trapped there. It is one of the root causes of David Cameron's A&E crisis.
"It is appalling to think that every week there are thousands of frail and frightened people speeding through our towns and cities in the backs of ambulances to be left in a busy A&E."
The number of very elderly people needing to go to hospital by ambulance has risen 81% since 2009/10, according to new figures.
Analysis by Labour showed that 300,370 people over the age of 90 were taken to A&E by ambulance in the last year, a substantial rise on previous years. In 2009/10 the figure was 165,910.
The data comes from tables of ambulance activity in England published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
George McNamara, head of policy and public affairs at the Alzheimer's Society, said:
These findings point to a worrying lack of awareness and understanding of the use of DoLS.
It is unacceptable that the majority of care providers are not following correct procedure when using this measure.
Over half the applications were for someone with dementia and much more needs to be done across health and social care to ensure DoLS are better understood and implemented consistently, ensuring the best possible quality of care and support.
It is essential that the CQC continue to monitor its use to protect those most vulnerable in society.
Care and support minister Norman Lamb said: "People in hospitals and care homes deserve to be fully protected at all times, particularly when they need to be deprived of their liberty in their own best interests.
"This increase shows that more assessments are being carried out when they should be to safeguard people and protect their rights.
"Yet there is a long way to go before these provisions are fully used.
"The bottom line is that to deprive someone who lacks capacity of their liberty without a DoLS in place is unlawful and needs to be treated extremely seriously."