Silent epidemic: January blues sparks increased loneliness amongst older people
New data from Contact the Elderly suggests the loneliness epidemic is particularly acute in January.
The number of socially isolated older people who reach out to the charity for support increases dramatically after the festive period. In the past three years, enquiries increased by an average of 86% between December and January.
Contact the Elderly organises free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people, aged 75 or over who live alone, offering regular interaction and vital friendship links. 73% of tea party guests say they feel less lonely as a result of their involvement with Contact the Elderly and 95% of guests say the tea parties give them something to look forward to.
Contact the Elderly have launched a short film, called ‘Break the Silence’, to raise awareness of the growing epidemic. The film features three real people, Chitra (76), Harry (93) and June (76), who describe what it’s like to live with loneliness.
The charity expects the trend to continue this January and is asking for the public’s support to fund the introduction of 120 new tea party groups across the country to meet this need.
Cliff Rich, CEO of Contact the Elderly:
“While we can all experience the January blues, older people who live alone are particularly vulnerable to loneliness at this time of year. Most families get together over the Christmas period, but contact tends to drop off in January.
This is a sad reality, but the cure for loneliness is relatively simple – friendship, connection and conversation. Our monthly tea parties are a lifeline for thousands of socially isolated older people across the UK.”
Linda Marlowe, ex-EastEnders actress and Contact the Elderly Ambassador:
“I am thrilled to have been a part of the making of this important film which gives a voice to older people suffering from loneliness.
January is the month of new years’ resolutions and we are all focused on what we are ‘giving up’. But we should really be focusing on what we can ‘give’ to those around us. I’ve seen first-hand the joy and lasting friendships created at Contact the Elderly tea parties and hope that people watching the film feel inspired to donate to this wonderful charity that is breaking the silence for lonely older people.”