England should be ashamed of how it treats its elderly, the Health Secretary said in a speech today.
It is a "national shame" that there are 800,000 elderly people in society who are chronically lonely, Jeremy Hunt said.
"We know there is a broader problem of loneliness that in our busy lives we have utterly failed to confront as a society," he said.
"Forty-six percent of people aged 80 or over report feeling lonely some of the time or often. Some five million people say television is their main form of company - that's 10% of the population.
"Each and every lonely person has someone who could visit them and offer companionship.
"A forgotten million who live amongst us - ignored to our national shame."
A 'forgotten million' elderly people suffer from chronic loneliness and social isolation, to 'our national shame', Jeremy Hunt said today.
More than a million old people experience chronic loneliness, but there are some simple things that can help defeat these sad feelings.
Winifred Green, 88, lives alone and until recently would go for weeks without speaking to anyone.