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Charity appeals for people to help tackle loneliness among the elderly in 2020

An estimated one in six elderly people said that they felt more lonely around Christmas than at any other time of the year
An estimated one in six elderly people said that they felt more lonely around Christmas than at any other time of the year

A charity is urging people across the north and north-east to make befriending an elderly person a priority in 2020.

Age Scotland recently launched its Share What You Love campaign, highlighting that the festive period can be one of the loneliest times of year for older people.

Now the charity is calling on volunteers to give up a few hours a month to tackle loneliness and isolation throughout the year.

Even those unable to commit to befriending can get involved, simply by making more of an effort to check on neighbours or to chat to an older person at the bus stop.

In the colder weather, people could help by dropping in on a nearby older person to see if they need help getting out to appointments or to the shops.

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “Many older people have difficulty getting out and go days, or even weeks, without as much as a friendly voice on the phone.

“We’re urging Press and Journal readers to take a little time to reach out to older relatives, friends or neighbours who might be feeling lonely.

“A quick call or a friendly chat over a cup of tea can make a huge difference to someone who normally goes days without speaking to anybody.”

The charity works in liaison with groups around the country to provide lifeline support to some of the most vulnerable people each day, with a helpline also offering advice or simply someone to listen and share a problem.

Highlands and Islands regional MSP Rhoda Grant has also backed efforts to combat social isolation, encouraging residents to look out for one another.

She said: “Sharing time to have a cup of tea or watch a TV programme together can make a real difference.  So can picking up the phone and having a chat.

“It might not be easy to call round if you live in a rural area but a phone call can be made from anywhere and can make the difference to how isolated a person feels.”

Studies have also shown that loneliness increases the risk of death by 10%, which is considered to be as bad as a 15-a-day smoking habit.

It is also believed to exacerbate heart disease, blood clots and cancer, harms mental health and doubles the risk of developing dementia.

Age Scotland’s Community Connecting Service can be reached on 0800 124 4222.

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