Christmas is meant to be a joyful time spent with friends & family. However, some older people don’t have the privilege of having social connections. Age UK states that ‘There are more than 2.5 million older people who have no one to turn to for help and support. Many of them will be alone this Christmas.’
Fortunately, it's not too late to make some older peoples' Christmas' one to remember. We have put together a list of 5 things that you can do to support older people over the Christmas period.
Top 5 Things you can do to Support Older People at Christmas:
1. Volunteer with a local organisation
Giving up some of your spare time can be the greatest gift of all for older people who don't have any friends or family of their own to celebrate Christmas with. Many charities offer fantastic support to older people over the Christmas period including visiting older people who would otherwise be spending Christmas alone, providing transportation on Christmas Day, and providing Christmas lunches. All of this is made possible by volunteers who are keen to give back to their community and spread the Christmas joy.
Here are a few charities who are helping older people this Christmas:
- Age UK - Age UK offer a telephone befriending service called 'Call in Time' which is for people aged 60 and above. You can sign up today to volunteer as a befriender & Age UK will match you with someone they believe you'll get on well with. Just a quick 5-minute phone conversation on Christmas Day could make a big huge difference to an older person.
- Re-engage - This Christmas, Re-engage are doing a 'Community Christmas Project' which involves people volunteering to offer services such as giving an older person a lift to their Christmas lunch or giving them a visit on Christmas day for a chat. For those who want to make even more of a difference, there is the opportunity to hold your own event for older people.
- The Salvation Army - The Salvation Army offers volunteering opportunities all year long, and Christmas is no different! This year 'More than 700 Salvation Army centres across the UK will be celebrating, with Christmas lunches, carol concerts and present donations.' Why not find where your local branch is and volunteer today to help make vulnerable adults' Christmases jolly.
2. Invite an older person to have Christmas dinner with you
Will you have spare space at your dinner table on Christmas Day? Inviting an older person along to your Christmas dinner could put a big smile back on their face. It may not be very often that they receive an invitation to a social event so the fact that you thought of them will make them realise that there are still people out there that care about them.
3. Write Christmas cards to care home residents
Christmas can be a lonely time for older people who don't have many family members or friends. It can be especially difficult for some care home residents who notice their peers receiving lots of Christmas cards whilst they have not received even one. However, we have the power to make care home residents realise that they have not been forgotten and that there are people who have time for them.
Some organisations arrange for volunteers to write Christmas cards for older people, inclusive of those who reside in care homes. If you have some spare time on your hands, you can get involved in making a big difference to someone's Christmas. Here are a couple of brilliant Christmas card organisations:
4. Offer practical help
Day to day tasks can become more challenging as people age. Quite naturally, they tire more easily and take longer to do tasks such as putting the hover around the house or carrying shopping home. Not everyone has a supportive family close by to help out, but this is where you could step in. If you have an older neighbour who lives alone and doesn't seem to receive many visitors, you could knock on their door and offer to help them out with any of the following:
- Providing lifts to and from places over Christmas
- Doing their Christmas shopping for them
- Assisting with writing Christmas cards & wrapping presents
- Helping out with household duties including cleaning & tidying
5. Buy a Christmas tree for an older neighbour
Putting a Christmas tree up marks the start of the festive season for many of us, however sadly the festive season doesn't begin for some older people as Christmas Day is just another day to them. Bring joy to someone's festive season by buying a Christmas tree for their home and helping them decorate it. This year, a group of caring students from Oldham College surprised Terrence, 78, who has spent the last 20 Christmas' alone by bringing him a Christmas tree. Terrence was well and truly touched! Watch the video below to hear more about his story.