Christmas can be the loneliest time of the year for older people

Age Scotland is urging us to look out for older family, friends and neighbours.
Age Scotland is urging us to look out for older family, friends and neighbours.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for many – but the loneliest for around 184,000 older people in Scotland.

Research from Age Scotland shows the extent of the country’s loneliness epidemic, and how it can be most acute during the festive season.

The charity is launching its No One Should Have No One campaign to shine a light on how tough this time of year can be for many older people.

While most of us are looking forward to celebrating with loved ones, one in 10 over-65s in Scotland – around 106,000 – say they will eat dinner on their own on Christmas Day.

One in six older people – around 184,000 – agreed they feel more lonely at Christmas than at any time of year.

One in four said they were not looking forward to Christmas this year.

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “While most of us are looking forward to celebrating with friends and family, it’s sobering to think of almost 110,000 older people sitting down to dinner alone on Christmas Day.

“Our new research shows the heart-breaking extent of Scotland’s loneliness epidemic, which can be especially acute at this time of year.

“For those who have lost a loved one, there’s no doubt this is the toughest time.

“Older people tell us they are dreading December 25 as it brings back too many memories of happy times and those who have passed away.

“Loneliness and isolation can be hidden problems, but we estimate there’s at least one chronically lonely older person on every street in Scotland.

“We’re urging everyone to take a little time out from the pre-Christmas rush, and think of older friends, relatives or neighbours who might be feeling lonely.

“As days draw in and the weather gets colder, it can be harder than usual for many older people to get out.

“Something as simple as a friendly chat, a card, or popping round for a cup of tea and a mince pie could really brighten someone’s day.”

Age Scotland’s Helpline offers free help and support to all older people in Scotland, while its Community Connecting service puts them in touch with groups that fit their interests in their communities.

The helpline number is 0800 12 44 222.