The most wonderful time of the year is nearly upon us! It’s the time of giving (and receiving!), of eating lots of food and spending time with family and friends… Isn’t it?
Well, unfortunately, this isn’t the case for everyone. According to research by Age UK, there are more than 1 million older people who feel lonely throughout the year and nearly half a million people aged over 65 who worry in particular about being alone at Christmas. And rather than it being a time of enjoyment and festivity, in reality many of people do not look forward to Christmas as it brings back memories of those they have lost.
With so many people struggling at this time of the year and missing out on companionship and festivity, we’ve put together a few ideas on how to best help your own family, friends or other local older people to not be alone this Christmas.
Send an Invitation
The most effective way to combat loneliness at Christmas is to invite those who don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with or anywhere to go to on Christmas day to join you to celebrate. Doing this often turns into so much more than a kind gesture to help others - it’s lovely to share the warmth and happiness of your Christmas with other people and the whole family can benefit. And it’s often not too much trouble to host other people - with the abundance of Christmas food, there’s usually some going spare should you decide to pull up another chair.
Organise an Activity
If you’re unable to invite others to join you at Christmas, why not organise an activity for people to enjoy the Christmas spirit? You could give people a lift and accompany them to local fairs or events. If the weather or crowds are a bit much for people, how about finding a cafe that overlooks a Christmas market? It will still allow them to see the goings on and feel the atmosphere but they can stay safely out of the way of the cold and crowds.
But what about those who are unwell or find it difficult to leave the house? Well, how about organising a festive film viewing? By setting up a film, getting together snacks or a picnic and inviting a few people to attend, you could create a lovely festive atmosphere without the person needing to leave the house.
Join a Befriending Scheme
What if you’d like to help someone but don’t know anyone specific to help? It this is the case, then there are schemes and services across the UK that enable you to befriend people. You can meet with people in their homes or call them over the phone, providing them with companionship and stimulation. Age UK, Friends of the Elderly, and the NHS are among many of organisations that can help you to befriend an older person near you.