Comment: ‘Best present may be a visit and a chat’

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it is easy to forget at this time of year that there will be people waking up on Christmas morning alone.

While the champagne is popping and presents are being hurriedly unwrapped across the city, some homes will be devoid of festive cheer.

Indeed for many people on their own, Christmas can be the hardest time of the year.

Today, we have news of a new survey which suggests Edinburgh’s pensioners could actually be the loneliest in the UK.

The numbers perhaps do not stand up to scrutiny with only 120 questioned in the Capital, but it highlights a very real issue nonetheless.

Age Concern estimates there are 2.5 million older people who are not looking forward to Christmas.

Loneliness is a huge issue that affects people all year round but it can become even worse over the winter as pensioners are unable to get out and about as much.

It is also a growing issue with competing demands and today’s lifestyle meaning that visiting elderly residents or neighbours may be the first thing to be sacrificed.

In an age when we increasingly rely on e-mail and text communication rather than a face-to-face chat, it is perhaps not surprising that many older people can find themselves increasingly isolated.

This can have a serious impact on both mental and physical health but the cure is incredibly simple – company.

For some people in Edinburgh this year, the best Christmas present may well be a visit and a chat.

If you can, make time in your plans to check on elderly neighbours and relatives and make sure they are well looked after for the festive season.

It may be as simple as picking up the phone or popping round for a quick cup of tea.

While that may not seem like much as we all enjoy the festivities, it really could make all the difference to ensuring everyone can have a merry Christmas.