For most of us, Christmas is a time that we spend with family, laughing, eating, playing games and sharing presents. But some people didn’t get to spend Christmas with other people, they were alone for the entire festive period.

For over 1.5 million elderly people Christmas is considered to be the loneliest time of the year. The charity Age UK questioned those aged 65 and over and estimated that 200000 elderly people will have spent Christmas alone this year. For some elderly people, they dread the festive season, knowing that it will be just like any other day of the year and they might not speak to anyone for the whole day. Some say that Christmas brings back too many memories of those they’ve lost and so they don’t want to celebrate it.

It’s not only Christmas that the elderly generation feels some level of loneliness. Age UK also found that 1.7 million older people in England haven’t met up with a friend in a month and 300000 over 65s have not even had a conversation with family or friends over the same period. So, next time you see an elderly person, perhaps when you’re doing your weekly shop in your local Sainsburys or when you pass them on the street take a moment to smile at them. Maybe even say “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon” because it might make their day, you may be the first person that has spoken to them that day or even that week and it won’t cost you anything to make someone smile.

Emma Knight