MORE THAN 70,000 OLDER PEOPLE IN THE SOUTH WEST FEEL LONELIER AT CHRISTMAS

New Age UK film shows heart-breaking reality of the festive season for many older people

New research for Age UK shows that more than 70,000 older people in the South West feel lonelier at Christmas time.

Alongside the new findings published to launch Age UK’s Christmas campaign, No one should have no one, the Charity has produced a short film entitled ‘Just another day’ which shines a light on the crushing, chronic loneliness which 1.2 million older people are living with in England.

Directed by the award winning and highly acclaimed Philippe Andre, ‘Just another day’ – which premieres on Saturday 2nd December – shows the everyday monotony of a lonely widower. For him, as for millions of older people in our country, each day is much like the last, and in the film we see that even Christmas is no exception. Sadly, this is the heart breaking reality for many older people in this country.

Nearly half of the older people in the South West surveyed for Age UK – equating to almost 600,000 people aged-65 and over – feel their days can be repetitiveiii. Based on the survey, the Charity estimates that getting on towards 60,000 people aged 65 and over in the South West don’t see or hear from someone for days on end over the festive period.iv 

Age UK Somerset’s campaign is calling on people locally to pledge their support and donate to help the Charity be there for older people and tackle the loneliness that is blighting too many lives. 

Every day Age UK Somerset hears from people who are experiencing devastating life events such as bereavement, which can give rise to overwhelming feelings of loneliness and loss. Left unaddressed this can cause long-term misery and contribute to the development of serious medical conditions, such as heart problems and strokes, mental health issues and dementia.

Philip Dolan, Chief Executive at Age UK Somerset said,

“Loneliness doesn’t only affect older people over the Christmas period, but because most of us expect to spend this time of the year enjoying ourselves with family and friends it can make those who are unwillingly on their own feel all the more left out and miserable. For many lonely older people the festive season also brings back memories of happier times in years gone by, reminding them of partners and other close relatives and friends who are no longer around and who they sorely miss.

“Chronic loneliness is not only horrible to experience day in, day out, it can also have a devastating impact on an older person’s mental and physical health. That’s why at Age UK [insert name] we are committed to being here year round for older people, to help tackle the loneliness that is blighting far too many later lives.

“There is something we can all do to make a positive difference to the older people around us. Having a friendly chat with an older person on the bus or in a shop,  or offering to help an elderly neighbour with their shopping if the weather is bad, can do more good than most of us would ever guess, and at very little cost to ourselves. In fact I guarantee you’ll feel better too as a result.”

Age UK Somerset tackles loneliness through vital services and support which operate across Somerset and North Somerset like its Befriending Service where Volunteers are matched with a lonely older person to offer companionship and sometimes the only conversation they have in a week, and our Ageing Well service which runs a range of gentle activity sessions with an emphasis on fun and bringing people together.   

To find out how you can support Age UK Somerset by donating or volunteering to help lonely older people please email communications@ageuksomerset.org.uk or call 01823 345610.

No-one should have no-one image

References:

Approx. 71,460 people aged 65+ (6%) feel lonelier at Christmas time. Kantar TNS polling for Age UK, Nov 2017 – sample of 2,585 people aged 65+ in the UK. Figures extrapolated by Age UK to regional population using latest ONS Population Estimates. 

Marmot, M., Oldfield, Z., Clemens, S., Blake, M., Phelps, A., Nazroo, J., Steptoe, A., Rogers, N., Banks, J., Oskala, A. (2016). English Longitudinal Study of Ageing: Waves 0-7, 1998-2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-5050-12. Figures extrapolated by Age UK to national population using latest ONS Population Estimates. Individuals experiencing “chronic loneliness” are those who are often/always lonely for at least two of the last three years and at least sometimes lonely in the other year of the three.

49 per cent (approx. 583,560). Kantar TNS polling for Age UK, Nov 2017. iv 5 per cent (approx. 59,550) of those aged 65+ don’t see or hear from anyone for three days or more over Christmas.

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