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Loneliness should not be an ‘inevitable’ part of getting old, Age UK supporter Dame Helen Mirren tells The Telegraph
Dame Helen Mirren has said that loneliness should not be an “inevitable” part of ageing, as Age UK reveals that almost two million people cannot afford to see their loved ones this Christmas.
According to new figures compiled by Age UK, and shared with this newspaper, 1.7 million older people say the cost of living crisis means they will struggle to see their friends and family as much this Christmas.
Further figures from the charity’s survey also reveal that 1.3 million older people are expecting to feel lonely this Christmas and more than 670,000 older people have nobody to ask for help during the Christmas period.
She said: “Getting older is inevitable, but this needn’t come hand in hand with loneliness. Sadly, too many older people have nobody to talk to and nobody to turn to, making the festive season the toughest time of the year.
“This year is set to be especially difficult, with huge numbers of older people also struggling to pay their bills and heat their homes, and many of these will be struggling alone.
“That’s why I am once again supporting Age UK. I have worked with the charity for a number of years and know how important their work is. They ensure that there is always someone to turn to, even in the toughest times. But they can’t do it without everyone’s support.
“So, I am asking everyone to please give what you can to Age UK – your donation could make a huge difference to older people with no one else to turn to.”
Dame Helen, who has won numerous BAFTA Film and Television Awards, rose to prominence in a breakthrough performance in the film TheLong Good Friday in 1980. Since then she has achieved regular critical acclaim for her film work, which includes roles in: Calendar Girls, Gosford Park and, most recently, for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen.
But the role she is most known for is her role as the genre defining as Detective Chief inspector Jane Tennison in the detective series Prime Suspect.
Dame Judi Dench, 88, the award-winning actress best known most recently for her role as Q alongside Daniel Craig in the James Bond film series, also supports Age UK. She was nominated twice for an Oscar for playing two British monarchs, winning for Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare In Love and being nominated for Queen Victoria in Mrs Brown. Last year, she was nominated for an Oscar for the eighth time for her supporting role in Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast.
Dame Judi said: “Loneliness is an awful thing to experience, and I think it’s fair to say that a lot of us, myself included, have had a taste of what it’s like in recent years.
‘Not everybody has somebody’
“While most of us have been able to pick up where we left off and rebuild our connections, many are not able to do that – because loneliness and isolation are an everyday existence for so many older people. While many of us are incredibly lucky to have family, friends and neighbours who check in on us, call us, make us laugh and so much more, not everybody has somebody. And that’s heart-breaking.
“Having somebody to talk to can change everything, it can change a person’s life. Age UK can do this, they are there at the end of the phone for the older people who need them, but we must support them so they can carry on being there.”
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said that demand for emotional and practical help among older people “is already high among those who badly need it – and it’s rising”.
“Unfortunately we know that, even in the best of years, Christmas can be a lonely time for significant numbers of older people, especially if they live alone and have no friends or family nearby,” she said.
“This year though, it looks like many more will experience a lonely Christmas time, and a deeply worrying one too if they are struggling to make ends meet.