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Age Cymru: Christmas is a 'lonely time' for the elderly

Age Cymru say that whilst Christmas is a time of 'happiness' for many of us, it can be a very 'lonely time' for older people.

This should be a time of happiness when we can look forward to being with our families and friends and enjoying each other's company.

But it can instead be a lonely time when older people can feel that they are a burden on those closest to them.

This is why Spread the Warmth - Age Cymru's annual campaign to prevent thousands of older people in Wales suffering needlessly in winter, is so important.

Funds raised by Spread the Warmth are used to provide Winter Celebration Grants to groups across Wales so that we can bring some cheer to those who are alone or isolated at Christmas.

– Ian Thomas, Age Cymru's Chief Executive Officer

Older people in Wales not looking forward to Christmas

22 per cent of older people in Wales are not looking forward to Christmas. Credit: PA

Latest research by Age Cymru has revealed that 22 per cent of older people in Wales are not looking forward to Christmas.

The study also revealed that one fifth of those who were not looking forward to Christmas said that it brought back too many memories of those who had passed away.

Age Cymru has set up a Spread the Warmth campaign to help tackle health, heating and loneliness issues for older people this winter.

Welsh over 65s ‘face perfect storm of challenges’

Energy bills are rising Credit: Chris Radburn/PA

Charity Age Cymru says Welsh over 65s are facing a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges this winter that includes loneliness and choosing between heating or eating.

Age Cymru’s Chief Executive, Ian Thomas:

”Life is harsh for many older people across Wales, particularly in the Winter.Thousands will live in just one room in their home to keep warm and many will rely on the television as their only company."

"Age Cymru’s own statistics show that over 60% of Welsh over 65s are worried about the increasing cost of energy bills."

The charity says that with local authorities facing budget cutbacks, many of the services that older people use to make life bearable are under threat.

It says day centres, lunch clubs and libraries are lifelines for many older people and without them many more individuals will be isolated in their own homes.

MP calls for clamp down on phone scams

A former Welsh Secretary is calling for governments to work with phone, internet and mail providers to clamp down on scams which target elderly people. Torfaen MP Paul Murphy is holding a debate in the House of Commons this afternoon. He's backing a campaign by Age Cymru and says,

I’ve been appalled at some of the examples I’ve seen. Peoples’ lives have been ruined by these dishonest operators, who target elderly and vulnerable people and rob them of their money and self-esteem. I’ve heard about a 76 year old widow conned out of her life savings. Others have been persuaded to send money abroad to claim non-existent lottery prizes, tricked into sending thousands of pounds to manipulative clairvoyants, or have paid several times over the odds for work on their properties.

These stories are disturbingly common. I’d urge people to look out for friends, family or neighbours who might be in danger. But Age Cymru are quite right - what is also needed is to get both Governments, Councils, charities, the police and the communications companies to work together to target these fraudsters and cut off their ability to con people.

– Paul Murphy MP, Labour

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'Still more to do' to improve advocacy for older people

Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services, says Age Cymru's report would help build on and strengthen existing advocacy arrangements.

This is a move in the right direction but there is still more to do.

I issued a written statement in June to set out my vision for the future framework of advocacy in Wales, building on existing and strengthening existing arrangements.

I have considered evidence on advocacy from Age Cymru, the Older People's Commissioner, the scrutiny of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Bill, and the Children's Commissioner.

It makes a compelling case on the benefits that advocacy provides in assisting people in making decisions about their care and what matters to them.

The framework will give people more voice and control to ensure they can maximise their care and wellbeing.

– Gwenda Thomas AM, Deputy Minister for Social Services

Older people 'need more control over their lives'

Older people need more control over their lives, according to Age Cymru Credit: Martin Foerster/PA

Older people should have access to more services providing them with a voice and more control over their lives, according to Age Cymru.

The charity is calling on the Welsh Government to give older people access to 'independent advocacy services' in the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Bill.

Louise Hughes, Age Cymru's safeguarding manager, said: "Our research shows that there has been a welcome increase in the number of trained advocates working in Wales in the last two years. However, the number of advocates overall remains low.

"Only 124 staff and volunteers are available to provide independent advocacy support to older people who need it across the whole of Wales."

The charity has launches a report into the availability of advocacy services across Wales, which found that of the 23 advocacy projects in Wales six projects will see their funding end in the next 12 months and seven do not know their future funding arrangements.

Concerns over number of Welsh pensioners cutting back on heating and food

More pensioners in Wales are cutting back on heating and food than anywhere else in the UK, according to an older people's charity. Age Cymru says 26 percent of those living on a pension here reduced their heating over the winter months.

The charity says it's because they're increasingly worried about the cost of living. We've been speaking to an 84 year old from Cardiff who says he wears two cardigans to keep warm and has to dip into his overdraft just to get by.

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