PENSIONERS living in Edinburgh are the loneliest in the UK – while elderly Glaswegians are the most sociable, a survey reveals.
The Scottish capital landed at the bottom of a list for the amount of time that over-65s spend with family and friends.
A survey undertaken by polling group TNS asked 2,300 pensioners across the UK how much time they spent out of the house and mixing with other people.
The poll covered 12 of the UK’s main cities, with Scotland’s two largest cities sitting at both the top and bottom of the social ranking.
Pensioners in Edinburgh disclosed that on average they spent less than an hour a day socialising, making them the loneliest in the UK.
The survey found 70 per cent of them spend less than five hours a day mixing with their friends and family.
Glasgow came out top as having the most sociable pensioners in the country, with 55 per cent of its elderly citizens spending more than five hours mingling.
Old age charities and council chiefs have now urged people to check on their older relatives and neighbours throughout the festive period so they do not suffer in silence.
Derek Young, policy officer at Age Scotland, said: “Around 42,000 older Scots are estimated to feel lonely.
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“This can have a serious effect on their mental and physical health. It has been likened to having a 15-a-day smoking habit, and is twice as harmful as obesity.
“Often, it is prompted by specific changes in people’s lives rather than simply getting older – most obviously the death of a partner or spouse, moving into new accommodation or a new area, retirement, family moving away, or loss of mobility.
“At this time of year, it’s more important than ever for people to check up on their older relatives, friends and neighbours, to make sure they aren’t suffering in silence.
“There are often groups which older people can get involved in within their communities, whether they involve singing, dancing, quilting, reminiscing and creative writing, or ‘walking football’ or even men’s sheds.”
Mr Young added that people feeling lonely could call Silver Line Scotland, which is a free service that offers friendship, on its 24-hour phoneline.
Edinburgh council social care convener Ricky Henderson said the survey’s findings highlighted the need for neighbours, family and friends to look out for elderly people, especially over the festive season.
He said: “Both the council and our third-sector partners are doing a lot of work to contact isolated people, particularly the elderly, to make sure they are kept as active and involved as possible.
“It is a challenge and we always have to be aware that isolation and loneliness can make existing health problems worse.”
Patrick Stannah, managing director of Stannah Stairlifts which commissioned the survey, said: “Sadly, loneliness is still a major issue, especially for the people in Edinburgh.
“Picking up the phone or stopping by for a cup of tea with your elderly relatives or neighbours doesn’t take long but can have a huge impact.”
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