More than half of older people are worried they will not see their loved ones this Christmas and almost two million “expect to feel lonely”, research suggests.
Around one in seven (16%) people aged 65 and over expect to feel lonely over Christmas, according to polling for Age UK.
And 62% said they are concerned that Covid-19 restrictions may mean they cannot see family and friends over the festive period.
Extrapolating these findings to UK population level suggests around 7.7 million older people are worried about not seeing family and friends, and almost two million are expecting to feel lonely.
The survey, of 2,264 UK adults aged 65 and over in November, also suggests almost a third (32%) of older people who have lost a partner are expecting to feel lonely.
Age UK is warning that this festive period could potentially be the loneliest and scariest ever experienced for many older people.
Its “no-one should have no-one” campaign, supported by Dame Judi Dench, is asking for urgent donations so it can support every older person alone over Christmas.
Age UK ambassador Dame Judi said: “We’ve heard so many heart-breaking stories this year of older people being cut off from their loved ones, through the restrictions which we’ve all had to follow and wanting to keep people safe from catching and spreading the virus.
“And now when we would normally be looking forward to Christmas celebrations and getting together to bring some cheer, many older people are facing their most difficult winter ever.”
She added: “We can all do something to help, whether that’s checking on an older friend or relative, helping someone in your area or making a donation, please think about how you can support older people today.”
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, 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 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.”