Age UK has warned of Britain's elderly population entering a self-destructive rut, which is badly affected by widespread ageism.
The charity has released analysis which shows nearly 1.5 million people aged 65 and over feel they can't control their own life and it rarely or never has meaning.
Almost one in five people who are over the age of 85 believe their life either never has meaning or rarely does, yet this is only the case in one in 10 people aged between 55 and 65.
The research was based on interviews with older people, many of whom said they struggle to look after themselves or connect with the wider world. Their problems were found to be amplified by a belief that society doesn't value older people.
The charity is asking the public to help older people to recognise their own worth and is advising older people on ways they can also avoid falling into a self-destructive rut.
The advice includes listening to the history of older people, focus on the person themselves, ensure family and friends help the older person and help them find something which can give them a purpose.
The charity director of Age UK, Caroline Abrahams, said: "“Everyone has their off days but for a significant minority of older people life appears to hold very little meaning or pleasure at all, and an unfortunate few get stuck in a self-destructive rut from which they just cannot escape. It is in all our interests to change this.
"But perhaps the most important message from our research is that we all need to realise that the ageism that is all too frequent in our society does real harm to some older people and makes them miserable and even unwell, even if more resilient older individuals are apparently unscathed.
"Our report reinforces the fact that it’s high time ageism was consigned to the past, along with all other forms of discrimination.”
Take a look at Age UK's video on asking for help or support above