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3m over 65 are not looking forward to Christmas

Published on 20 December 2012 12:30 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  - and 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, said: "Living in isolation and loneliness is a stark reality for too many people in later life. 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.'

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!'

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 on Friday 21st December, 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.'

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. Act now to Spread the Warmth and help hundreds of thousands of older people.

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 they can visit www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk to download the guide, get more information about the Spread the Warmth campaign and find out where their local Age UK office or shop is. There are lots of ways to help Age UK Spread the Warmth this winter. People can make a donation simply by calling 0800 169 87 87 or visiting www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk.

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Ref: SM

Media contact: Natalie.owen@ageuk.org.uk

Notes to editors

For more information on Age UK or for interviews please contact Natalie Owen on 020 3033 1429 or email natalie.owen@ageuk.org.uk.

Winter Omnibus Survey by TNS Omnibus was compiled on behalf of Age UK and ran from 24-30 October 2012 to a contact sample of c.1034 adults aged 65+ across the UK. The data is weighted to be representative of the UK population. Estimated numbers of people: grossed figures, using mid-2010 Population Estimates for the UK, Office for National Statistics, June 2011.

Age UK

For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.

Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life.

We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI (together the Age UK Family), our local Age UK partners in England and local Age Concerns. We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we").  Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).

Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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