New Age UK/Age Cymru film shows heart-breaking reality of the festive season for many older people
New research for the charities Age UK and Age Cymru shows that nearly a million (928,000) older people in the UK feel lonelier at Christmas time, two-fifths of whom have been widowed. [i]
Alongside the new findings published to launch Age Cymru’s campaign, No one should have no one, the charities have produced a short film entitled ‘Just another day’ which shines a light on the crushing, chronic loneliness which thousands of older people are living with in Wales.[ii]
Directed by the award winning and highly acclaimed Philippe Andre, ‘Just another day’ – which premieres on Saturday 2nd December – shows the everyday monotony of a lonely widower. For him, as for millions of older people in our country, each day is much like the last, and in the film we see that even Christmas is no exception. Sadly, this is the heart breaking reality for many older people in Wales.
Nearly half of the older people surveyed [iii] – equating to almost 5.7 million people aged-65 and over in the UK – feel their days can be repetitive, almost a quarter of whom (around 1.4 million older people) admitted that Christmas isn’t a special day for them and just passes them by.[iv] Based on the survey, the Charity estimates that getting on towards a million (873,000) people aged 65 and over don’t see or hear from someone for days on end over the festive period.[v] And at Christmas time, on days when older people do not see or hear from anyone, over half (55%) rely on the TV for companionship.[vi]
Through its No one should have no one campaign, Age Cymru is calling on people across the country to pledge their support and donate to help the charity be there for older people and tackle the loneliness that is blighting too many lives.
Roy, an 85 year old widower experienced loneliness after his wife passed away, said: “I spent every day for 55 years with my beautiful wife and getting used to life without her has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Not a day goes by when I don’t miss her dearly.
“No one teaches you about loneliness and until it happens to you, you don’t realise just how devastating loneliness is. I’m incredibly grateful for the support I have and feel much more positive and confident now.
Every day Age Cymru hears from people who are experiencing devastating life events such as bereavement, which can give rise to overwhelming feelings of loneliness and loss. Left unaddressed this can cause long-term misery and contribute to the development of serious medical conditions, such as heart problems and strokes, mental health issues and dementia.
Victoria Lloyd, Age Cymru’s interim chief executive says: “Loneliness doesn’t only affect older people over the Christmas period, but because most of us expect to spend this time of the year enjoying ourselves with family and friends it can make those who are unwillingly on their own feel all the more left out and miserable. For many lonely older people the festive season also brings back memories of happier times in years gone by, reminding them of partners and other close relatives and friends who are no longer around and who they sorely miss.
“Chronic loneliness is not only horrible to experience day in, day out, it can also have a devastating impact on an older person’s mental and physical health. That’s why at Age Cymru we are committed to being here year round for older people, to help tackle the loneliness that is blighting far too many later lives.
“There is something we can all do to make a positive difference to the older people around us. Having a friendly chat with an older person on the bus or in a shop, or offering to help an elderly neighbour with their shopping if the weather is bad, can do more good than most of us would ever guess, and at very little cost to ourselves. In fact I guarantee you’ll feel better too as a result.”
Anyone who is experiencing feelings of loneliness or is worried about an older relative or friend can call Age Cymru Advice free of charge on 08000 223 444 or contact their local Age Cymru to see what services are available.
For more information on No one should have no one, including how to donate and get involved, people can go to www.agecymru.org.uk/noone
[i]Approx. 928,000 people aged 65+ (8%) feel lonelier at Christmas time, with 41% of those (approx. 379,000) feeling that way because they are widowed. Kantar TNS polling for Age UK, Nov 2017 – sample of 2,585 people aged 65+ in the UK. Figures extrapolated by Age UK to national population using latest ONS Population Estimates.
[ii] Marmot, M., Oldfield, Z., Clemens, S., Blake, M., Phelps, A., Nazroo, J., Steptoe, A., Rogers, N., Banks, J., Oskala, A. (2016). English Longitudinal Study of Ageing: Waves 0-7, 1998-2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-5050-12. Figures extrapolated by Age UK to national population using latest ONS Population Estimates. Individuals experiencing “chronic loneliness” are those who are often/always lonely for at least two of the last three years and at least sometimes lonely in the other year of the three.
[iii] 48.1 per cent (approx. 5,686,000). Kantar TNS polling for Age UK, Nov 2017.
[iv] 24.3 per cent (approx. 1,380,000) – this increases to 27.3 per cent among those who have been widowed, divorced or separated. Kantar TNS polling for Age UK, Nov 2017.
[v] 7.4 per cent (approx. 873,000) of those aged 65+ don’t see or hear from anyone for three days or more over Christmas.
[vi] 54.8 per cent (approx. 1,024,000) of those aged 65+ who don’t see or hear from anyone for at least a day over Christmas rely on the TV for companionship. TNS polling for Age UK, Nov 2017.
- Age Cymru is the national charity for older people in Wales.
- We are the force combining Age Concern Cymru and Help the Aged in Wales.
- We work with local Age Cymru Partners across Wales to improve life for older people.
- Age Cymru is a registered charity 1128436.
- Company limited by guarantee and registered by in England and Wales 6837284.
- Age Cymru is funded by donations from the public, corporate partners, our trading enterprises and the Welsh Government.
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