Are you worried about spending Christmas alone this year?
- Credit: Archant
There are concerns about loneliness over Christmas time as some elderly and isolated relatives in Suffolk face spending the festive period alone.
New research from Campaign to End Loneliness has revealed almost 60% of adults fear they won’t be able to see their family and friends this Christmas due to Covid-19, according to a UK study.
Over a quarter of respondents worry about being alone on Christmas Day, while 54% worry they won’t be able to see elderly relatives for fear of putting them at risk of infection – increasing their loneliness.
Over 80% said they are concerned about the loneliness of older people who have a long-term health condition, are bereaved or who live in care homes.
Tim Holder from Suffolk Community Foundation said a lot of elderly Suffolk residents become isolated by the winter weather as well as the long nights – but this year it’s compounded by the fact they’ve already suffered eight months of isolation.
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“A lot of the activities and groups elderly people are usually part of have stopped running in lockdown and the collapse of Age UK Suffolk has left a huge hole with the loss of their befriending scheme,” he said.
“We need to really take things back to a grass roots level this winter by checking on your neighbours, getting involved and supporting vulnerable people.
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“Christmas can often be stressful figuring out who’s bringing the grandparents along or if everyone is going to their house – now there will be added stress on that.”
Alison Pearson, from Ipswich and Suffolk charity Activ Lives, says a different approach is needed this Christmas for those used to having big celebrations with an extended family.
“There’s no reason why you can’t see your elderly relatives at Christmas,” she said. “Providing you maintain social distancing, wash hands and keep to the rule of six you can still have them over.
“The person at risk from loneliness needs to be the priority so organise the day around them – if there’s lots of people to fit in then pick other days and have several celebrations so everyone has a chance to spend time together.
“You don’t have to be tied to just one day, there’s Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Year.”
Ms Pearson added that people suffer from loneliness 365 days of the year, not just at Christmas.
Tips to prevent loneliness this Christmas
• When sending Christmas cards, put a hand written note inside from the children and some photos to keep grandparents and relatives involved in their busy lives
• Keep the communication going online with regular Zoom calls, Whatsapp or Facetime – if your older relatives aren’t connected digitally use this time to get them online ready for the festivities
• Have several Christmas celebrations on different days to accommodate those who can only see one household at a time – don’t get tied to just one day
• Plan activities throughout the celebrations to give structure for anyone living alone
• Ask your elderly or at risk relatives what they’d feel most comfortable doing and how they want to do it
• Plan early for Christmas presents, cards, food and travel to ensure isolated relative have gifts and comforts on the day no matter what restrictions are in place