New research by Age UK reveals that nearly 400,000[i] people aged 65 plus in the UK are worried about being lonely this Christmas. In addition, it showed that there are 2.5 million (23%) older people who are not looking forward to Christmas this year with nearly 650,000[ii] saying it’s because the festive season brings back too many memories of those who have passed away.
Loneliness is a huge issue that affects people all year round but it can become even harder during the winter months with over two million people[iii] (19 per cent) worried about not being able to get out and about as much because of shorter, darker days and poor weather conditions. This winter the Charity is calling for donations to help fight loneliness through its vital national and local services.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK, said: 'No one should feel lonely at any time of the year. The festive season is usually a time for celebration with loved ones and these figures come as a timely reminder of the scale of the issue.
'People’s social networks often shrink due to life-changing events such as retirement and bereavement which can increase the risk of feeling lonely. Voluntary sector services like Age UK’s have never been more important because funding cuts are forcing many of the local services that help older people stay connected, such as lunch clubs, to scale down or close. It is time to take loneliness seriously and that’s why we’re asking everyone to take action by donating today to help us support older people to enjoy the festive season and the year to come.'
There is something that everyone can do to help fight loneliness whether it’s helping to put an older person in contact with their local Age UK or popping in to check on an older neighbour or relative to help make the festive season something to look forward to.
Age UK helps to prevent and reduce loneliness by supporting a range of services and activities such as a friendly telephone call, weekly visits, social activities such as lunch clubs exercise classes and tea-dances, advice when there’s nowhere to turn, and the chance to get out and about in the local community, all of which play a crucial part in helping make later life better. Regular contact from local Age UK services can be life-changing and give older people the confidence they need to feel more connected and less isolated.