Welcome to the latest edition of Senior Snippets: the monthly advisory column with the older members of our community in mind, brought to you by Sheena Van Parys of Home Instead in Harrogate, Ripon and Thirsk.
In this instalment, we will be sharing some ways in which you can help combat loneliness amongst the elderly over the festive period. Everyone should have someone to spend Christmas with yet this year many older people will have no one to share it with. This year’s John Lewis Christmas ad, made with the Age UK, helped raise awareness of the number of older people who will be spending Christmas alone.
There are lots of ways you can help lonely or socially isolated elderly people in your community. Through advice from the NHS and AGE UK, we have listed some ways in which you can help someone feel loved this Christmas.
Start a conversation: If you see an elderly neighbour on the street, stop and have a chat with them. Ask if they need any help with their shopping, posting letters or setting up their holiday decorations.
Get to know your neighbour: If you don’t know your neighbours, take the opportunity to introduce yourself when you see them next, and ask if you can help in any way. If you know someone who lives alone or doesn’t leave their house much, they might be a good person to reach out to and will most likely appreciate your effort.
Share a meal: Older people often need a hand cooking for themselves, so why not share your time with a neighbour by bringing them an extra serving of a hot, home cooked meal, or even a frozen portion they can heat up or microwave. Either way, your kind gesture would be appreciated!
Share your time: A rewarding way to help combat loneliness is to volunteer for organisations that support older people. These often offer "befriending" schemes for isolated elderly people, and rely on volunteers for one-to-one contact as a telephone "buddy", visitor or driver, or hosting social events for groups.
It's the thought that counts: Something as simple as sending a card or posting one through the letterbox, dropping off a little present, or calling in for a cup of tea can go a long way to making an elderly neighbour feel loved.
It is our hope that you all have a happy Christmas with your loved ones. By doing one kind deed for an elderly person this December, you are making a positive difference to someone’s life!
I’d love to hear from you! To make a suggestion for a future topic, please write to me at [email protected] or by post to Home Instead, Nidderdale House, Station Yard, Harrogate HG3 3BA. Alternatively, you can also call me on 01423 774490.