Festive cheer abandons nearly 3 million older people
Published on 04 December 2015 12:01 AM
According to new polling for Age UK, a quarter of over-65s - nearly three million people - are not looking forward to Christmas this year.
The research, which is part of Age UK's No one should have no one at Christmas campain, paints a gloomy picture of the festive season. More than 300,000 older people aren't looking forward to Christmas because they know they'll be on their own.
Our No one should have no one at Christmas campaign, which kicked off last month, aims to raise awareness of the loneliness epidemic among older people at Christmas.
We're calling on people to remember those facing Christmas alone and help make a difference to older people's lives by donating £3 today by texting 'CHRISTMAS' to 70111 to help answer a call to the Age UK Advice Line.
We're also calling on everyone to sign our petition, calling on the Government to recognise loneliness as a serious health problem and commit to action to help tackle it.
Gogglebox's June and Leon join the campaign
On Friday 4 December, Gogglebox stars June and Leon Bernicoff will feature in a special advert filmed to support our campaign. In the 60 years they have been together, the couple have almost never spent time apart.
June said, 'We're very fortunate to have each other to rely on, but sadly there are so many people who simply don't have anyone to turn to.'
Leon added, 'I've always said I'll be fine as long as June is by my side; she's my rock through life's ups and downs. Everyone deserves regular companionship and support in life and it's heartbreaking that so many older people feel there's simply no one they can turn to.'
Loneliness as harmful as 15 cigarettes a day
There are clear reasons behind the high numbers of lonely older people. Families are more geographically scattered than ever before due to factors such as increasing divorce rates and the changing job market.
Working families live busy, hectic lives and as more of us use electronic communications, older people risk being isolated from conversation channels.
Yet loneliness is a serious health hazard which can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and increases the risk of health conditions, including dementia, high blood pressure and depression.
'A simple visit once a week' would help those who feel lonely
We are calling for urgent action to tackle the problem of loneliness. Almost 90% of those surveyed feel there should be more help available for lonely older people, with well over a quarter believing that 'a simple visit once a week' woud help most people who feel lonely.
Across the country organisations, including many local Age UKs, run initiativess to help those who feel lonely and isolated, but more funding for these kinds of services is urgently needed, as well as a more comprehensive network of community services to prevent and alleviate the problem.
To help Age UK support lonely older people and find out how you can help by donating, volunteering and signing its petition calling on Government to take action go to: www.ageuk.org.uk/christmas.