Almost 280,000 older people will spend Christmas Day alone this year. The stark findings highlight the extent to which older people are forced to spend the day by themselves with no friends or family and only the television for company.
While the nation starts preparing for the festive season, buying presents, inviting family over, many older people are dreading Christmas with 11 per cent admitting they feel more lonely on Christmas Day than any other day.
For many (53 per cent) it is just a reminder of happier times and loved ones lost. Almost a fifth of older people (19 per cent) say they feel sad remembering happier Christmases in the past. Spending time with family (66 per cent), seeing children open their presents (49 per cent), eating Christmas lunch together (47 per cent) and decorating the house (40 per cent) are just some of the happier memories older people miss.
“For most of us Christmas is a wonderful time of year, full of fun, food and presents, but the highlight for most of us is spending quality time with our friends and family. For people sat on their own with nothing it is the worst time of the year. If we can each help with just a small act of kindness – a card, visit or offer of help – for an older person alone during the festive season, then I would like to encourage people to take that small step and make a huge difference to older people in your community.”
Phillip Schofield, Ambassador for Royal Voluntary Service
“Christmas is a time most of us look forward to, but for many older people who will be spending it alone this year it can be a very sad and lonely time. As we get older, our social circles often shrink and we become more likely to be spending long periods of time not speaking to anyone. This can be particularly hard at Christmas time when so much emphasis is placed on catching up with friends and family. Many older people only have their happier memories of Christmases gone by for company.
“We would urge everyone to take a few minutes to make contact with an older person they know, or who lives in the neighbourhood, and wish them a Happy Christmas. Christmas is a busy time of year for so many people, but taking the time to remember to include an older person is something that should be on everyone’s Christmas list this year.”
David McCullough, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service
Royal Voluntary Service offers a number of services during the festive period from lunch and dining clubs, to a lift to a festive event or Christmas Shopping through its community transport service. Find out what support you can get in your area by searching our services
Royal Voluntary Service commissioned PCP Market Research Ltd to conduct quantitative research among 500 older people aged 75 and over, via telephone between 3 and 17 October 2016.
The GB population of people aged 75 and over according to ONS Mid Population Data (2015) is 5,142,210. 5.4% of people over the age of 75 surveyed said they would spend Christmas Day 2016 alone. 5.4% of 5,142,210 equals 277,679 people.