Christmas is a time for family and friends. The build-up to Christmas is often exciting, especially as a university student. However, the build-up to Christmas for many elderly people is just like any other day of the year… lonely.
Loneliness among the UK’s elderly population is something that is quickly forgotten about. But for them, it’s a very real ordeal. It has been found that some elderly members of the population can spend up to 7 days without seeing anybody. Can you imagine not seeing anyone for that length of time? Probably not, and yet it is something over a million individuals are likely to experience day in day out, month after month, year after year.
Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to social separation. This isolation may also contribute towards health changes. This is a problem which is only going to be exacerbated by the growing population. So, it is important to be aware, especially at Christmas time. A few factors contributing to the problem are retirement, loss of friends, loss of loved ones, location and transport links.
There is no quick fix to the problem, but it is something which can be made better over time. No one wants to see elderly members of their family experience loneliness. So, making the effort to improve their circumstance won’t go unseen.
Telephone calls are an easy way to contact elderly relatives or friends. Making sure to ring elderly people can give them a routine, and it improves their social isolation dramatically. The lack of routine prevalent amongst the elderly population can be fixed by promoting a sense of purpose – encourage them to join local community groups where they can meet others. You can also go to see them and make them tea, because the elderly generation love tea! And most importantly, make sure to get them a card this Christmas! This is something that many students forget.
A few ideas to fix the listed contributing factors of loneliness:
When someone retires, their routine is immediately changed. Often, they can lose or forget what their sense of purpose is. By developing a new routine, it gives the elderly – or anyone for that matter – a sense of purpose. Telephone calls or regular visits help reinforce this.
Many elderly people are unable to drive which immediately becomes a challenge socially. What you may not know is that, usefully, many community groups offer days out with door step pick-ups.
This is closely linked with transport. If an elderly person lives in a more remote location it is harder for them to socialise. Going to see them, or asking neighbours to look out for them is an easy way to help their situation.
Loss of friends/ Loved Ones
Local community groups are there to bring people in similar situations together. This is a good way for elderly people to meet new friends and it gives them something to look forward to.
So, this Christmas, make sure to give them a smile and make the effort to see those around you, especially the elderly.