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60% of older people don’t expect festive happiness

Published on 02 November 2015 12:01 AM

60% of older people don't expect festive happiness to be part of their Christmas this year

Age UK launches No one should have no one at Christmas campaign

While many of us are looking forward to spending time with family and friends and getting stuck into festive fun, new research from Age UK shows that for older people Christmas cheer often falls short: three fifths (60%)* of people aged over 65 aren't expecting festive happiness to be part of their Christmas this year. 

61% of the same age group said that Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without spending time with their children or grandchildren, the top choice when asked what they wouldn't be without this festive season. However, just 23% of those polled aged 18-34 say they plan to spend Christmas with their grandparents1 and only just under half (48%) of those aged 25-54 say they plan to spend it with their parents. 

As the festive season builds, topping the list of worries for older people is missing loved ones who have passed away (42%), followed by the fear of not being able to see everyone they want to over Christmas (29%). Just 14% of people aged 65 and over said that they expected Christmas parties to be part of their festive celebrations, with only a third anticipating festive drinks with friends or neighbours.  

The figures are released today by Age UK as it launches its new campaign No one should have no one at Christmas raising awareness and tackling the heart-breaking fact that the festive season will be a very lonely time of year for many older people. The campaign highlights that more than a million2 older people say they haven't spoken to a friend, neighbour or family member for over a month. Last year the Charity also found that nearly 400,0003 people aged 65+ in the UK were worried about being lonely over Christmas. 

The survey also reveals the worries the nation has about loneliness; nearly half of UK adults (41%) admit to being worried about being alone in later life. In addition, nearly a third of people (27%) simply consider loneliness part of life - but when thinking about people facing a lonely Christmas, 46% of people feel sad about it and 16% are worried about friends and family who will be spending Christmas on their own. 

As the festive season approaches Age UK is calling on people to remember those facing Christmas alone and help make a difference to older people's lives by donating £3 today and texting ‘CHRISTMAS' to 701111 to help answer a call to the Age UK Advice Line.  The Charity is also asking everyone to check in on older neighbours, relatives and friends, and sign its petition calling on the Government to recognise loneliness as a serious health problem and commit to action to help tackle it.  

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: "The festive season is usually a time for celebration with those you love, but for too many older people it can reinforce feelings of loss, loneliness and of life passing them by. Contrary to what many people think, loneliness is not a normal part of ageing, and it not only makes life miserable, it can have a serious impact on physical and mental health too. 

"Today, many families are widely dispersed so it is certainly true that visiting older relatives can be challenging. But as our research shows, making the effort to keep in touch often makes an enormous difference to older people who tend to be stoical and therefore reluctant to admit how lonely they are.  We all have a role to play as individuals, families and communities in ensuring older people feel valued and included and that's why we're asking everyone to join us in taking action. By donating and signing our petition you can help older people to enjoy the festive season and the year to come; everyone should have someone at Christmas." 

Age UK is creating a ‘live' version of its No one should  have no one at Christmas advert today in London's South Bank with a specially-created snow globe and celebrities Sylvia Syms, Diana Moran, Lionel Blair and Brian Murphy are stepping into the role to raise awareness of the issue.  Members of the public are invited to sit within the globe to find out more about loneliness and why it is such a serious problem. 

Dame Judi Dench said: "I've come to know that the most important thing in life as you get older is the people around you. Like many others, I eagerly await the arrival of loved ones at Christmas and without them the festive celebrations just wouldn't be the same. So it's heart-breaking to think of those who will have no one at all to share these special occasions. Age UK is trying to change this: help them to help an older person this festive season and support its No one should have no one at Christmas campaign." 

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.

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Media contacts

For more information please contact the Age UK team at 3 Monkeys Communications on 020 7009 3100 or email ageuk@3-monkeys.co.uk, or Karen Richards at Age UK on Karen.Richards@ageuk.org.uk or 020 3033 1466.

Notes to editors

Age UK research: research carried out by TNS via an online questionnaire with a sample size of 2605 UK adults aged 18+.  Survey was carried out between 13 - 19 October 2015.  The 65+ figures are based on a sample within the survey of 534.

*'Festive happiness' wasn't chosen from a range of choices from which they could choose as many as they liked.

  1. It was not specified whether those who answered had living Grandparents or not. Research carried out by TNS via an online questionnaire; with a sample size of 2605 UK adults aged 18+.  Survey was carried out between 13 - 19 October 2015.
  2. Loneliness, Social Isolation and Living Alone in Later Life, C. Victor et al., 2003 and Mid-2014 Population Estimates UK Office for National Statistics, 2015
  3. Winter Omnibus Survey by TNS Omnibus was compiled on behalf of Age UK and ran from 08/1014-14/10/14 to a contact sample of 1,248 people aged 65 plus in the United Kingdom.

Estimated numbers of people: grossed figures, using mid-2013 Population Estimates for the UK, Office for National Statistics, 2014.

Images of the snow globe are available on request.  If you'd like to experience time in the globe please contact the team listed above, or come down to Observation Point, South Bank, London between 10:30am - 12:30pm.

Older people and their families can get in touch with Age UK to see how the Charity could help someone who may be feeling lonely by calling Age UK Advice 365 days a year for free on 0800 169 65 65.  Age UK is at the end of the phone - its national Age UK Advisors provide information and advice on anything to do with getting older - free of charge.

Text CHRISTMAS to 70111 to donate £3

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Age UK provides a range of services and your gift will go wherever the need is greatest.

You will be charged £3 plus one message at your standard network rate. Age UK will receive 100% of your donation. By using this service, you agree that we may text and call you in the future, from time to time. If you'd rather we didn't, text DECLINE to 85010.

Age UK is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee, (registered charity number 1128267 and registered company number 6825798). Our network includes Age Cymru, Age NI, Age Scotland, Age International and more than 160 local partners.

Age UK

We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI and our local Age UK partners in England (together the Age UK Family). 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 believes that everyone should have the opportunity to make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances.  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.

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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