Age UK says nearly one million older people get lonelier around Christmas

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Almost one million older people feel lonelier at Christmas time, a charity has found.

Alongside new findings published to launch Age UK's Christmas campaign, the charity has produced a short film to highlight the chronic loneliness which it says 1.2 million older people are living with in England.

Nearly half of the 2,585 older people surveyed - equating to almost 5.7 million people aged 65 and over - feel their days can be repetitive, and almost a quarter (around 1.4 million older people) said Christmas is not a special day for them and just passes them by.

The research found that almost one million (928,000) older people feel lonelier at Christmas time, two-fifths of whom have been widowed.

Based on the survey, the charity estimates that 873,000 people aged 65 and over do not see or hear from someone for days on end over the festive period.

And at Christmas time, on days when older people do not see or hear from anyone, over half (55%) rely on the television for companionship.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, 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."