The charity has launched a campaign aimed at tackling isolation this festive period
The First Minister has backed a campaign to tackle loneliness this festive period as new figures revealed 54,000 older Scots will spend Christmas alone.
Almost 65,000 Scots aged 60 or over feel lonelier at Christmas time, according to the research for Age Scotland, while 200,000 regularly go three or four days without speaking to anyone.
The charity said bereavement, immobility and family having moved away were the main causes of loneliness and isolation among older people.
It has now launched a campaign - No one should have no one at Christmas - encouraging people to think about what they can do to address and prevent loneliness in their communities and among their friends and families.
Dealing with loneliness and isolation can be incredibly difficult, but at this time of year it’s especially heartbreaking
That could include calling in on neighbours to see if they need a helping hand or asking local groups who support older people if they need help, the charity suggested.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave her support to the campaign on Monday as she visited a sheltered housing development in Edinburgh where she met with residents and pupils from nearby Drummond Community High School.
The residents and schoolchildren have been taking part in an intergenerational project where young and older people learn about each other’s lives and take part in social activities together.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Dealing with loneliness and isolation can be incredibly difficult, but at this time of year it’s especially heartbreaking to see that so many older Scots will spend Christmas alone. Age Scotland’s work to ensure that no one should have no one at Christmas is vitally important, and everyone can play a part.
“By reaching out to older people in their street or community – by taking them out, doing a good deed or simply having a chat – people can have a hugely positive impact on the wellbeing and happiness of an older person.”
Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, added: “It is often life events such as bereavement, ill health and complex long term health conditions such as diabetes and arthritis – all more common in later life – that give rise to feelings of loneliness and which, if left unaddressed, can cause long-term misery.
“As part of our campaign, we’re asking people to check on older neighbours and perhaps even see if they need a helping hand. Small gestures, like going round for a cuppa, or clearing paths of snow or ice and showing you are concerned, can provide comfort and aid to older people.”
The charity is encouraging any elderly person who is facing loneliness to contact its helpline on 0800 12 44 222 for support or advice.