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Older people aren't only lonely at Christmas

The Campaign to End Loneliness is calling for more support for older people all year round following research from Brunel that shows they are more like to feel lonely in the summer than at Christmas.

The study, carried out by professor of public health Christina Victor and a team from Brunel's Department of Clinical Sciences, demonstrates that older people could be most at risk of feeling lonely in the summer months, contrary to views that loneliness is more widespread at Christmas.

The study from Brunel University London looked at experiences of loneliness in a study of 34 people aged 65 and over during different seasons of the year, and concluded they were most likely to feel lonely in the summer months and least likely to feel lonely in December or March.

Prof Victor said: "By highlighting the high levels of loneliness among older people in the summer months we have 'busted the myth' that loneliness is just a problem at Christmas. Our research shows how important it is to conduct research into the experience of loneliness in later years so that we develop evidence based interventions against loneliness and not base services on myths and stereotypes."

Laura Ferguson, Director for the Campaign to End Loneliness, said: “It may come as a surprise to many that older people feel less lonely at Christmas than at other times of the year.

“The tremendous efforts from charities, volunteers, friends and family to support older people make a huge difference in tackling loneliness during the holiday. However, with 800,000 older people in England feeling lonely all or most of the time, we are urging all those who support older people at Christmas to continue to maintain contact and support all year round.

"Research shows that loneliness damages the health of older people, with an increased risk of high blood pressure, dementia, and depression. If the Government and health professionals don't act to prevent older people from being lonely, we are going to see the consequences in our hospitals and social care services all year round."