3m people over 65 not looking forward to Christmas
Published on 20 December 2012 12:01 AM
New research commissioned as part of Age UK's Spread the Warmth campaign reveals that sadly more than 3 million people over 65 are not looking forward to Christmas this year.
When asked why 18% (540,000) said it was because they were going to be on their own. Also, 28% (840,000) said that Christmas brought back too many memories of those who had passed away.
Isolation and loneliness is a huge issue affecting many older people and can be felt particularly hard during difficult winters. Around 400,000 people over 65 stated that being lonely over the Christmas period was their main concern during the winter months, and 2.1 million people (over a fifth) were worried about not being able to get out and about as much because of shorter, darker days and poor weather conditions.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK, commented: 'We know that not being able to get out of the house and socialise with others is linked to feelings of isolation, and the adverse impact on a person's wellbeing of feeling lonely has been likened to that of obesity and smoking. Age UK's Spread the Warmth campaign aims to tackle not only the physical, but also the emotional issues faced by older people during winter.
'We're calling on everyone to do their bit to help lessen the impact of winter for older people this year. There is something simple that everyone can do from popping in to check on an older neighbour or relative to making a donation - visit www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk to find out how you really can change someone's Christmas.'
Age UK helps 93-year-old Alice to feel less lonely
Alice, 93, was supported by Age UK Rotherham through their befriending scheme after she reported feeling extremely isolated and lonely. Alice now has a befriender, Andrew, who takes her out every week.
Alice regards Andrew as a ‘real gem' and would be lost without his visits. 'He is wonderful,' she said. 'We go into town and the local park. I have found a very good friend in Andrew. He makes me feel wanted and I don't just say that - I most sincerely say it - he treats me great!'
200 preventable deaths a day
This winter as many as 25,000 older people could die needlessly because of the cold. That's around 200 preventable deaths a day.
Age UK and its local and national partners are working to keep older people warm and well. We're providing social activities and contact for older people, as well as tips on combating the cold at home and outdoors. We're keeping people warm and safe at home, giving out hot nutritious meals and offering information and advice 365 days a year.
We're also calling on the Government to boost the energy efficiency of older people's homes.
Text Santa on Friday
ITV's Text Santa is supporting Age UK in its bid to tackle the issue of isolation and loneliness. As one of the six chosen Text Santa charities, Age UK will benefit from a three hour text-a-thon to take place this Friday, during which Age UK, its local partners and older people who have used the charity's services will feature.
All money raised will be shared equally between the six charities and Age UK's share will fund services aimed at reducing the levels of loneliness felt by older people as part of the charity's Spread the Warmth campaign.
ITV Text Santa host Christine Bleakley explained why she is supporting Text Santa this year: 'Christmas is a vulnerable time for people who are on their own. Our message is a special one - at Christmas it's important to get back to basics and let people know that they're not alone and that there are people out there willing to listen and help.
'We want people to watch the show, hear the stories and if you have anything to spare at all and would very kindly put it in our direction, it will be going towards a good cause.'
Spread the Warmth this Christmas
There are lots of ways to Spread the Warmth and help hundreds of thousands of older people this winter. You can make a donation simply by calling 0800 169 87 87 or visiting www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk
Older people and their families can call Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65, where they can also order a free copy of ‘Winter wrapped up' with a free thermometer.
Alternatively click on the link below to download a version of the guide (without the free thermometer):
Download Winter wrapped up guide (PDF, 323kb)