Reported by The Scotsman – the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media.
This Christmas, more older people in Scotland will be alone and feeling lonely than ever before, and social isolation can have fatal health consequences, experts say.
Research published this month by Age UK found that one in six over-65s in Scotland – around 184,000 people – feel more lonely at Christmas than at any other time of the year. One in ten will be on their own on Christmas Day. And almost a quarter say they are not looking forward to Christmas at all.
This is why The Scotsman has launched a campaign this Christmas to tackle loneliness in the country, reach out to those who are alone at a time when others are celebrating, and support the work of charity Age Scotland.
Loneliness can afflict people of any age, but a report by Dr Joanna Teuton, public health adviser at NHS Health Scotland, suggests the elderly are among the most vulnerable.
“There is consistent evidence to indicate that adults living alone and those who are widowed are at increased risk of severe loneliness. While estimates vary, data from the UK suggest that adults living alone are twice as likely to report severe loneliness compared with those living with others,” according to Dr Teuton’s report. “Estimates also suggest that widowed adults are around three times more likely to experience severe loneliness compared with married adults.”
There is also overwhelming scientific evidence that loneliness is not just an inconvenience, or a mild social problem for a few people in society. It is an epidemic in Scotland, and it is potentially deadly.