As we all busy ourselves preparing for the festive season, spare a thought for those older people in your community who may be on their own this Christmas, urges Age Cymru.
The charity’s research shows that 14,000 (i) older people in Wales feel even more lonely at Christmas than they do at other times of the year; 2/5 of whom have been widowed. Sadly more than 300,000 (ii) older people in Wales say their days are repetitive while 75,000 (iii) say Christmas day isn’t special for them anymore.
The charity’s research found that many older people become lonely through no fault of their own due to circumstances such as bereavement, families moving away, and losing contact with former work colleagues following retirement.
It also found that some older people fear becoming ill during the festive week as many health and social services operate reduced levels of provision.
Age Cymru’s interim chief executive Victoria Lloyd said: “If you know of an older person in your neighbourhood who may be alone this Christmas then why not pop round to offer some seasons’ greetings and tell them that should they need any support over the holidays that you will be there for them.
Such simple acts of kindness and reassurances can bring some festive joy and offer peace of mind to what can be a difficult time for many older people. It is after all the season of goodwill!”
81 year old Joy Matthews (picture attached), a widower from Caerphilly is having mixed feelings about the forthcoming Christmas celebrations. Joy says “ I’m not sure what I will be doing on the 25th – hopefully an invite will turn up, it has done in the past, but I’ve bought a frozen Christmas dinner just in case.
“In my dreams I’d love to jet off to Spain with my husband and a few close friends and celebrate Christmas there, but I know that’s not going to happen!
“The problem is that wherever I might end up I will bound to become some sort of burden as people will have to pick me up, not drink throughout Christmas day and then bring me home. I’ll be putting a hold on their festivities.
“But the biggest worry for me is that there will be no basic services between Christmas and New Year. GPs, dentists, and pharmacists will all be closed or running skeleton services. And even if there is a service how will older people get there when public transport is so limited. Like any bank holiday we worry about getting ill or having toothache. How will we cope?
“Being widowed also makes things worse at Christmas. I can’t help but shed a tear each year as I think about previous Christmases spent with my husband.”
Notes to editors
Studies in loneliness
Age Cymru has recently published its annual journal called Envisage which contains a number of papers on loneliness written by academics and experts in the field. To view a copy please visit: http://bit.ly/EnvisAGE
(i) Approx. 14,000 people aged 65+ (7%) feel lonelier at Christmas time, with 36% of those (approx. 5,000) 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.
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.
(ii) 48 per cent (approx. 300,000). Kantar TNS polling for Age UK, Nov 2017.
(III) 27 per cent (approx. 75,000) Kantar TNS polling for Age UK, Nov 2017.