Nearly 400,000 people aged 65 or over are worried about being lonely this Christmas.
The new research by Age UK reveals how big an issue loneliness is in the UK, and the charity is calling for vital donations to help fight loneliness over the festive season.
The research also shows that there are 2.5 million older people who are not looking forward to Christmas with nearly 650,000 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 2 million people worried about not being able to get out and about as much because of shorter, darker days and poor weather conditions.
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.'
Help end loneliness
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. These include friendly telephone calls, weekly visits and social activities, such as lunch clubs, exercise classes and tea-dances.
The charity offers 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.
To support Age UK’s vital work people can donate by calling 0800 169 8787 or visiting our Help end loneliness page.
Older people and their families can get in touch with Age UK to see how the charity could help someone who may be feeling lonely by calling Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65.