Local company Home Instead, who support older people living in their own homes in and around the towns of Harrogate, Ripon and Thirsk, recently took the opportunity to talk about ‘loneliness’ on local radio.
Beth Parsons from Stray FM Radio met with Home Instead owners Sheena and Andrew Van Parys to talk about why Christmas might not be such a festive family fun time for some people living in the community.
Startling statistics from the charity ‘Friends for the Elderly’ highlight that loneliness is a huge problem, 1 in 3 older people are affected by loneliness, 5 million older people in the UK cite the TV as their main source of company, and a saddening 450,000 older people in the UK spent last Christmas alone.
What are the reasons for us being lonely? Some of the reasons include the fact that we are an ageing population with the number of people aged 80 years and older being projected to almost double by 2030. You may have lost a loved one, moved away from family and friends, lost the social contact and enjoyment you would get from going to work every day, overall you feel isolated and you may also have health problems that make it difficult to be as active as before.
It is important to address loneliness as it can be associated with depression, sleep problems, impaired cognitive health, hypertension, psychological stress, and mental health problems
Home Instead Harrogate, Ripon and Thirsk want to tackle this problem of loneliness, especially during the festive season. We all have a thousand things to think about - presents to buy, meals to prepare, travel arrangements to be made. But we can be so caught up with getting together and wrapped up in our own motives, we might not spare a thought for those who get lonely, with nobody to get together with this festive season.
It's certainly a sad thought, that somebody might spend Christmas alone. But it needn't always be the case. Home Instead are encouraging people to spread Christmas kindness, visiting neighbours and being vigilant for those in the community who might not have anybody to visit over the Christmas period. Perhaps check if your neighbour would like their Christmas cards posted, help with some shopping, provide a hot meal on a cold winter’s evening, or simply drop in for a cup of tea and a chat.
It might be difficult, as an older person, to ask for companionship over Christmas. But there's no shame in asking, and no end to the amount of Christmas warmth out there waiting for anybody who wants it. Home Instead can help with group activities, companionship services, outings and trips and more.
Technology has the potential to make a positive impact on loneliness but for those who do not have access to the internet you could be the missing link that connects those in your community who need these services with the information about how to access them.
If you want to get in touch directly with the Home Instead office, on behalf of somebody you know, you can call them on Harrogate 01423 774490, Ripon 01765 530400 or Thirsk 01845 440510 or visit www.homeinstead.co.uk/harrogate