Right now, 2.5 million elderly people in the United Kingdom have no friends or family to turn to for support. Most of them live alone, isolated from society, and more than a million go for over a month without speaking to anyone.
Extended periods of loneliness and isolation can quickly spiral into depression, which often leads to a decline in mental and physical health. Can you imagine going a month without speaking to anyone?
This festive season we’re encouraging people to do at least one random act of kindness in hopes of making our community of elderly people feel less lonely this Christmas, and every day.
Here are some ways you can help:
Get to know your neighbours
Is there an elderly person living in your street? Why not take the festive period as an opportunity to get to know them better. Something as simple as a smile and hello will be enough to start the conversation and make them feel less lonely. Invite them for tea and/or a stroll through your local park once a week. It may only take an hour of time out of your entire week but could be the one thing they look forward to every week.
Sign up to charities
Charities like AgeUK and The Silver Line UK offer community support throughout the year to help elderly people feel less lonely. You can sign up to an array of volunteering options, both part time and full time, such as promoting a national event or hosting an awareness fundraiser. They even have a service that matches you with an elderly person if you can’t find one in your local borough.
Start a crafts club
Getting to know your neighbours will also tell you more about who they are as an individual. Perhaps they were a keen gardener or is really good at crocheting? Find out what their hobbies are and set up an activity club, e.g. crochet club with a few people every week, that they can teach. Getting them to impart knowledge to a group of people will not only help them feel less lonely but will also give them a sense of purpose and keep their minds active. Plus, you’ll get to learn a new skill in the process!
If there aren’t any craft skills/hobbies within the elderly community in your neighbourhood, partner with your local community centre or church for support on setting up a successful craft club.
Write them Christmas cards
Most elderly people feel even more alone at Christmas. You can change that by making their Christmas special and reminding them that they’re not forgotten. Include them in your Christmas cards this year, or invite them to spend Christmas Eve with you and your family. Something as simple as a warm wish on Christmas is enough to make a difference.
Introduce them to technology
Teaching an elderly person how to use the computer and the internet will open doors for them to connect with the outside world. Take them to your local library to get a library card; most libraries are set up with computers with internet access that are free to use. Get them registered on Skype, so you can video chat with them every few days. Also get them set up on HealthUnlocked, so they can find communities to match their health needs. This will aid them in finding a routine, enabling them to get out of the house every few days to interact with other people.
While loneliness is most prevalent in our senior citizens in the U.K, it’s important to note that loneliness can affect anyone of any age. If you’re feeling lonely or are simply looking for someone to speak to, join a community on HealthUnlocked. There are people waiting to connect with you. Start by saying hi.