28th November 2017
For many people, Christmas is the most exciting and anticipated time of year – a chance to relax in the company of loved ones and enjoy some downtime. The seasonal festivities are understandably family-oriented, but for those who don’t have family and friends around them, in particular the elderly, it can be a challenging time.
Figures show that 1.9 million people over the age of 65 often feel invisible or ignored and 1.4 million feel cut off from society – and these feelings of isolation are only amplified at this time of year. It is something that our Care Heroes see first hand with some of the clients we work with – which is why we place such an emphasis on getting to know them, building friendships and making them know that they are valued. At Christmas, we throw a party (which according to many is the event of the year!) and invite all our clients as guests of honour – and we really celebrate our time together, the positive experiences of the past year and look forward to the next.
Many of us have elderly neighbours or acquaintances, and Christmas is the perfect time of year to reach out and show them that somebody is thinking of them. We’ve put together a few tips to help you let someone know that you care this Christmas:
Saying a simple greeting to somebody as you pass them on the street can have an enormous impact – and a smile goes a long way to let that person know that they are in somebody’s thoughts.
It might seem like an obvious one, but something as straightforward as a cup of tea with an acquaintance can enhance an elderly person’s day and let them know that they’re not alone. A day can seem like a long time when you’re on your own, so getting together for half an hour can make all the difference.
Many old people feel particularly lonely if they do not have grandchildren, or live far away from young family members – even more so at this time of year when so much is geared towards children. Consider helping your children to write Christmas cards to drop round to elderly neighbours – starting a dialogue in this manner might be the start of a beautiful friendship between young and old. At the very least it will bring a smile to the face of an elderly neighbour, and help a child to think about the plight of others over the festive period.
If you know that an elderly person will be on their own over Christmas, but you don’t live nearby, make sure you telephone them and ask what their plans are. Many elderly people who are lonely don’t want to bother others with their problems, so by giving somebody the opportunity to talk about their feelings, they might reach out to you and take the step of asking for help.
Reaching out to somebody that you don’t necessarily know that well can be daunting – but the impact that you could potentially have on their life by showing them a little bit of kindness is immeasurable. And the benefits are two-fold – many elderly people have a lifetime of stories, humour and experiences to share, and Christmas is the perfect time of year to get to know somebody better.