Christmas is seen as a time to bring friends and family together. However for some people, particularly the elderly, Christmas is often the hardest time of year. People suffer from loneliness all year round but often this time of year can highlight these feelings.
Age UK conducted a survey that found half a million older people in the UK expect to feel loneliness this Christmas and aren’t looking forward to it.
Many elderly people don’t seek any help at this time of year. Often Christmas will go by without them seeing anybody at all over the festive period.
Older people struggling with loneliness can often also be experiencing anxiety and feeling quite low. They may feel like they are a burden to family and friends. They might feel like they will bring others around them down and so remain isolated in their home. You may notice they begin to become more withdrawn from social activities.
Some older people may have lost loved ones and perhaps no longer have anyone close by. They may not reach out for support for fear of ‘bothering’ others.
What can you do to help?
If you suspect someone if suffering from loneliness, it’s important to let them know they are not alone. As silly as that may sound, there are simple things that can help. Call them to see how they are, maybe pop around to theirs for a cuppa and a chat.
Try to distract them with some nice festive activities and fun things to do. Maybe take them to see a local Christmas light switch on. Perhaps taking them along to a pantomime in your town would be a great way to make them feel involved.
If you know of someone who is suffering from loneliness then why not invite them over on the big day? It might be a bit of a squeeze but just consider the difference you will be making to that person’s life. Maybe you could make this a ‘Christmas tradition’ with them making them feel included and reminding them they are not on their own.
These simple acts of kindness can make the world of difference to elderly people suffering from loneliness. Try to think how you would feel in their situation and what would help you and then do that, it may be a small thing to you but a huge thing to a lonely person this Christmas.
Back in July we teamed up with Nottingham City Homes to tackle loneliness across the city and wrote a blog. Have a read here.