“Chances are, you or someone you know will be feeling isolated this Christmas because of arthritis”

17 December 2019
Sue, sat on the sofa, hugging her son.

Christmas is a time filled with celebration, festivities with colleagues and making plans to reunite with family and friends. But our research reveals just how important it is to check in with loved ones to see how they’re doing and if they need support over the festive period

In our report, Defying Arthritis at Every Age, we outlined the impact of arthritis on areas ranging from our work and relationships, to the ability to socialise and care for children.

This data shows that over the festive season thousands of young people with arthritis face a disproportionate risk of isolation and loneliness, which can lead to poor mental health.

We found that almost half (41%) of people with arthritis we surveyed reported feeling lonely on a regular basis.

Although feelings of isolation can affect people with arthritis of all ages, our data shows that young people aged 16-34 were most affected. Three quarters (71%) of young people reported feeling lonely on a regular basis because of their condition, with over half (49%) having experienced mental health problems.

Arthritis affects 10 million people in the UK. The condition can fluctuate from day to day, which means many people find it hard difficult to make or keep plans with friends and family.

Other key findings revealed:

  • Three quarters (73%) of young people with arthritis avoid making plans for social occasions because of their condition.
  • Three quarters (76%) are forced to cancel plans with family and friends because of pain and fatigue.
  • More than half (52%) of young people with arthritis feel lonely because of their arthritis, compared to a quarter (27%) across all ages.

Why we need to talk

Many people we speak to tell us that the lack of public understanding about arthritis and the impact it can have on all aspects of life – from being able to spend time with friends and family to being able to move without pain.

For many young people, the lack of understanding is of the condition is compounded by a common misconception that arthritis is an ‘old person’s disease’, and an inevitable part of aging. 

“Friends and family need to remember many people with arthritis find it hard to ask for help or confide in how they are truly feeling. So, if you make the first move and ask how your loved one is doing, it will be truly appreciated and make it easier for them to be honest”.

Carrie (age 25), living with rheumatoid arthritis

Get involved

We’re calling on everyone to have an open conversation, so that together we can push back against arthritis and ensure no-one if left excluded or feeling alone this Christmas.

“This month many people are looking forward to parties and getting together with loved ones, but chances are, you or someone you know will be feeling isolated because of arthritis. Whether it’s organising a work Christmas party or simply arranging a night out with friends, by having an open conversation and with a few simple considerations we can all push back against arthritis and ensure no one is left excluded and feeling alone this Christmas.”

Liam O'Toole, CEO of Versus Arthritis

Find the support you need

If you are feeling lonely or isolated, or need information or support, we’re here whenever you need us.

Get in touch.