Loneliness is agonizing at any age but as we get older, loneliness not only impacts our physical and mental health but our quality of life, too.
The festive season is traditionally when we spend with our family and friends. It’s a time of sharing, good company, and trifle 😉
But as our memory gets fuzzy or our mobility or hearing isn’t what it used to be, feelings of isolation and loneliness can quash any festive cheer.
Maybe you or a loved one can’t drive anymore, or you’re not well enough to travel with your family to celebrate special days together. Or maybe you feel forgotten or ignored when you can’t participate in the celebrations. Or ashamed when others are impatient or reluctant to engage with you.
It is the sad truth that loneliness is an epidemic that affects one in three Seniors. And that one person could be your parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or dear friend.
The good news is that there are some simple ways to reduce loneliness in the Elderly, particularly over the festive season when our hearts and minds are (usually) filled with generosity and the desire to spread some goodwill.
The 12 ways of Christmas - make a difference to an Elderly person’s life this festive season:
Be generous with your time. Stop by for a visit. Make some tea to have with mince pies and simply enjoy an Elders company (and put up some decorations, too!).
Start a conversation. Ask them about their past, their favourite memories, how they usually spent the holidays. Let them reminisce and listen with intent and interest.
Surprise them with a call from their loved ones living far away. Arrange a video call with friends or family to connect even when everyone isn’t in the same room.
Get into the spirit! Cook a small, classic Christmas lunch with all their favourites and enjoy a meal together. Set the table and make it something special.
Give them a gift of their favourite treats or frame a new or old family photo that’s dear to them as a present.
Gather a group of Elderly people living in their own homes for a special tea or activity that everyone can enjoy.
Accompany your loved one to a religious service or carols by candlelight or even volunteer at a local charity and give back to fill up our cups.
Get into nature. Enjoy the beach, spend time in the garden, visit the botanical gardens, enjoy the fresh air on scenic drives and little trips to special places. My dad loved to visit Red Hill in Simons Town – where he grew up – and could spend hours just remembering life as it was once.
Read a book or watch a film together. There’s nothing like a chat about a great book or an enjoyable movie to lift your spirits.
Keep a tradition alive. Whether it’s lighting candles for those who’ve passed on or saying a prayer or honouring someone’s legacy. Keep or start a tradition that acknowledges the people who played an important role in our lives.
Help out around the house with little things that need to be fixed or maybe some light housework and meal prep to show you care.
Offer to take them to medical appointments and check ups. This can be a tricky one but a tweak to an Elderly person’s hearing aids might help them to participate in conversations and social occasions.
Living alone or independently in your own home needn’t be lonely or isolating. With the right support and some genuine companionship, loneliness can become a thing of the past. At the CareCompany, we know that social connection is important at any age, but particularly as we get older, and our lives become a bit smaller.
Perhaps you or a loved one doesn’t need long-term, full-time home care but a weekly trip to the shops and lunch with some friends might be just enough to keep you livingly happily on your own terms, in your own home.
Don’t suffer in silence this festive season. Reach out to us – we're here to help!