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The old and the lonely

10,000 over-75s in Scotland will spend Christmas Day alone because their children are too busy to visit them, a new report claimed today. Across the UK, the survey found a total of 363,176 older people had children too busy to see them. The study by the older people’s charity WRVS said many elderly people were left isolated and lonely because their families had moved away, often to find work. But almost two-thirds of older people said they would not tell their children they were lonely because they did not want to “bother them”. In the Lothians, around 1700 over-75s will be on their own on Christmas Day.

Earlier research from the WRVS showed 27 per cent of Scots over-75s feel lonely – more than in any other part of the UK. 11 per cent of older people in Scotland lived at least one hour’s drive away from their nearest child, which meant almost half were visited just once every two to six months. The survey found lack of job security and changes in the labour market had increased the pressure on families, with 82 per cent of children who moved away from their older parents having done so for work reasons. Margaret Paterson, head of operations for WRVS Scotland, said: “Many children have no choice but to move away from their older parents, and really regret the fact they aren’t close enough for more regular visits.”

Only 28 per cent of older people in Scotland spoke to their children on the phone every day, compared with 40 per cent across the UK. Most older people did not use Skype to talk to their children, many because they did not know how BUT OF those who do 85 per cent said it helped them feel more connected. The regularity of Skype in Scotland is that 75 per cent of those who use Skype do so weekly,

A separate report warned lonely people are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Researchers found it was not so much the fact of living alone as feelings of loneliness which increased the risk of having the degenerative brain disease.

Meanwhile average train fares have increased by more than 26 per cent since the start of the recession, almost three times faster than wages, new research revealed today, making even harder for families to visit. Fare rises will outpace wages and inflation again in 2013, with the cost of some fares set to soar by ten per cent, while pay is forecast to rise by an average of 2.5 per cent.

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