Christmas is the time of year where people take the time to come together with loved ones and feel joyful. For many, it is just that… however, evidence suggests that a heart-breaking percentage of up to 13% of elderly people feel lonely and isolated during the Christmas period. This isolation can have detrimental effects to health and quality of life, but can be tackled. To help combat this problem, check out these ways of preventing loneliness in the elderly this Christmas.
It’s the little things that make all the difference. If you pass an elderly neighbour or an elderly stranger, it can make their day just to stop and say a quick hello. It might be the only communication they will have all day! It might be that the individual has hearing difficulties or problems with memory, so make sure you speak loud and clear for them to hear and get the most out of the conversation.
Offer a Helping Hand
For elderly people still living at home, simple household tasks can become daunting. A helping hand can go a long way, so if you have some spare time, why not offer to help with some of the basic things they need doing around the house. Even if it’s just emptying bins or washing dishes! Not only does this help an elderly person to feel more relaxed, but you can socialise with them while helping with their chores.
Provide a Hot Meal
Cooking can be a hard task for elderly individuals suffering from isolation. One way of helping to reduce this stress is to take some food round for them to simply heat up. You could make an extra portion of the food you’re cooking at home and bring it over in a container. Or, if you fancy it, you could even offer to sit and eat with them to keep them company for an hour. Food recipes particularly good for doing this are casseroles and pies, as they are easy to make in large batches and lovely to eat during the winter months.
Spend Time Volunteering
If you have some free time or holiday during the Christmas holidays, volunteering at organisations that support the elderly is a great way of doing your bit to combat loneliness in the elderly this Christmas. There are various organisations that you could volunteer at:
Age UK is a large organisation helping to maximise quality of life for the older population. You could join their efforts by becoming a ‘Befriender’, where you visit someone who lives alone and feels isolated. Alternatively, you can volunteer as a day centre helper who helps organise and run events.
The Salvation Army help many disadvantaged individuals across the UK, including the elderly. They are always looking for volunteers to help with their many events across the county. Volunteers can visit older people who are at home and lonely at Christmas and help with Christmas lunches for elderly people who would otherwise be spending Christmas alone.
Community Network are a charity dedicated to fighting social isolation and loneliness. They do this by striking up a line of communication between those feeling lonely and volunteers, via phone and also the internet. By committing to just 1 hour a week you could be helping the elderly who are feeling lonely this Christmas.
Keep an Eye on Health
It’s important to be aware of the elderly’s vulnerability to illness during the cold winter months. Getting the flu jab is a good measure in helping to protect individual’s from the dreaded flu, so it’s good to ask elderly individuals if they have utilised the free flu jab available to them. If they haven’t, you could offer to make an appointment at their local GP surgery. If you do notice any symptoms of illness when spending time with an elderly person, report it to the doctor and ask for their advice. As well as this, if you’re visiting someone at their home, make sure it’s a nice and warm temperature as low temperatures can result in illness.
There are so many things we can do to combat elderly loneliness this winter. A little can go a long way and anything from a polite hello to spending your free time volunteering can make the world of difference to someone who is feeling isolated!
Keep up to date with our blog for more advice and information.