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This Christmas set to be the loneliest yet

Published on 25 November 2020 12:21 PM

Almost three quarters of the older population in the North West are concerned they won’t see friends and family this Christmas

New findings show the public has stepped up to support older people through the pandemic, and we need to keep the support going through the winter.

Almost 138,000 older people in the North West are expecting to feel lonely this Christmas[i] according to Age UK’s new research for its No one should have no one campaign.

The second national lockdown in England is also causing uncertainty for older people, and almost three quarters of people aged 65 and over in the North West - more than 976,000 people - are concerned that COVID-19 restrictions might mean that they cannot see family or friends this Christmas[ii], potentially making this festive period the loneliest and scariest ever experienced for many older people.

Winter is always a tough time for older people - dark nights, short days and cold, often wet weather make it harder to get outside. These challenges combined with pandemic restrictions mean that chance encounters - like catching up with neighbours on the street or friendly chats at the supermarket - are less likely right now, yet they can make a big difference to those who are almost always on their own, or feeling lonely. 

Research carried out by Age UK has previously found that following months of staying inside, some older people have lost confidence in doing day-to-day activities they previously took in their stride, and are no longer taking pleasure from things they used to enjoy[iii]. With the worst of winter still very much to come and COVID-19 continuing to represent a threat to older people, the Charity is worried that many will find the next few weeks and months particularly tough to navigate, especially if they are on their own.

The good news from these new findings is that people have stepped up to support our older population during the pandemic, which has made a huge and much appreciated difference – almost half of older people in the North West say they wouldn’t have got through the pandemic without their friends[iv],highlighting the power of friendships and human connection, which older people need now more than ever before.

However, while almost 564,000 older people in the North West have had someone call them for a chat because of their situation during the pandemic[v], sadly this isn’t the case for everyone. Recent ONS figures show that, across Great Britain, 2.2 million of over 60s say that haven’t had anyone to talk to about their worries[viii] and sadly 2.2 million said they felt like they are a burden on others[ix].

For many older people, Age UK Manchester will be their lifeline this winter, and we are calling for donations to help fund our continuing Covid-19 Emergency Response Support Service.

Sally Dervan at Age UK Manchester said: "This seems set to be a festive period like we have never experienced before, and not one any of us would want to navigate on our own. At the best of times, Christmas can be bitter-sweet for many older people, but this year they are going to need our support even more than usual. At Age UK Manchester we were thrilled to hear older people paying tribute to all the friends, neighbours - and strangers - who had reached out to offer them help during the first wave, but the fact is we know that some older people missed out, and are likely to do so again. We want to be there with anyone who finds themselves in that position this winter, but we can only do it with the public's support, so please do donate to our campaign this year if you can."

This winter will be like no other, yet far too many older people are facing this challenging and uncertain time alone. To find out how you can support us with a donation, click here or call 0161 833 3944 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Notes to editors

Research: All figures, unless stated otherwise, are based on data from Yonder online and telephone omnibus research polling for Age UK, November 2020 (sample of 2264 people aged 65+ in the UK) and ONS mid-year 2019 population estimates (published June 2020).

Yonder conducted an online sample of 1980 UK adults 65+, between 3rd and 12th November 2020. Data is weighted to be representative of the population of the UK. Targets for quotas and weights are taken from the National Readership Survey, a random probability F2F survey conducted annually with 34,000 adults.

Yonder conducted a telephone sample of 284 GB adults 65+ between 9th and 16th November 2020. Data is weighted to be representative of the population of Great Britain. Targets for quotas and weights are taken from the Office National Statistics.

Yonder is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by it rules. For further information see http://www.britishpollingcouncil.org/

 

 

[i] Age UK calculation based on data from Yonder online and telephone omnibus research polling for Age UK, November 2020 (sample of 2264 people aged 65+ in the UK, of whom 247 people aged 65+ were in the North West) scaled up to the age 65+ population of the UK from ONS mid-year 2019 population estimates (published June 2020). 10% of people surveyed from the North West region answered either ‘slightly agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ when asked: ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?’ - 'I'm expecting to feel lonely this Christmas’.

[ii] Age UK calculation based on data from Yonder online and telephone omnibus research polling for Age UK, November 2020 (sample of 2264 people aged 65+ in the UK, of whom 247 people aged 65+ were in the North West) and ONS mid-year 2019 population estimates (published June 2020). 71% of people surveyed in the North West answered ‘When it comes to Christmas, what, if anything, are you most concerned about?’ - ‘COVID-19 restrictions might mean I cannot see family or friends’

[iii] Age UK (2020), ‘The impact of Covid-19 to date on older people’s mental and physical health’. Available at: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/reports-and-briefings/health--wellbeing/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-older-people_age-uk.pdf

[iv] Age UK calculation based on data from Yonder online and telephone omnibus research polling for Age UK, November 2020 (sample of 2264 people aged 65+ in the UK, of whom 247 people aged 65+ were in the North West) and ONS mid-year 2019 population estimates (published June 2020). 46% of people surveyed in the North West answered either ‘slightly agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ to the question ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?’ ‘I wouldn't have got through this year, with the pandemic, without my friends / friendships’

[v] Age UK calculation based on data from Yonder online and telephone omnibus research polling for Age UK, November 2020 (sample of 2264 people aged 65+ in the UK, of whom 247 people aged 65+ were in the North West) and ONS mid-year 2019 population estimates (published June 2020). 41% of people surveyed in the North West answered ‘Which, if any, of the following has someone done for you this year because of your situation during the pandemic?’ – ‘Calling you for a chat’

[viii] Source: Office for National Statistics (13th November 2020). Table 11, Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (COVID-19 module), 28 October to 1 November 2020. Available at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandwellbeing/datasets/coronavirusandthesocialimpactsongreatbritaindata [accessed on 18th November 2020]. These figures are scaled up to the age 60+ population using ONS mid-year 2019 population estimates (published June 2020).

[ix] Source: Office for National Statistics (13th November 2020). Table 11, Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (COVID-19 module), 28 October to 1 November 2020. Available at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandwellbeing/datasets/coronavirusandthesocialimpactsongreatbritaindata [accessed on 18th November 2020].