As so many song lyrics tell us, Christmas should be "the most wonderful time of the year". For many people this is true, but this month we'd like to give some thought to those who might not enjoy this time of year, especially the elderly.

The charity Age UK found that 1.4 million older people across the UK are expecting to feel lonely at Christmas.

Arrange a visit
Do you have family members or neighbours who will be alone? Can you offer them a seat at your Christmas table? Or can you pop in and visit at some point during the day? If not Christmas day, then around the Christmas period and let that person know when they can expect you so they have something to look forward to. Even a cup of tea with a mince pie and a chat can have a positive impact.

Take the time to call
If you can't physically be with a family member, then call them instead. A simple phone call can make all of the difference. In fact recent analysis also found "that a phone call from a loved one is the best Christmas present many older people feel they can receive, so Age UK is encouraging everyone to make the effort to phone an older friend over the Christmas season, so they know they are not forgotten".

Help with their shopping
Pop around to your elderly neighbour and ask if you can take them out to the shops so that they can buy food or to get out of the house. Being alone can be a long day, with little to do.

Help with Christmas decorations
Many people living alone don't bother to decorate the house and it can make a big difference and help lift their mood. Buy your neighbour a small tree and decorate it for them. Don't forget to let them know you will also take it away, so that they don't need to worry about the cleaning up.

Attend a Christmas event at a local community centre or church
Charities such as Community Christmas and Contact the Elderly, help volunteers to organise events and tea parties.

Offer to drive an elderly neighbour to an event
Encourage someone you know to get out and about to events over the festive season. By offering to drive them, it might be the nudge they need to overcome any anxiety, especially on Christmas Day when transport is limited.