AS most of us prepare to take a few days’ break from our hectic lifestyles over the Christmas period, we should use this welcome window of opportunity to take stock and see what we can do to improve our lot and that of our nearest and dearest. The over-commercialisation of the festive season tends to mask what its true meaning should be and it can be a lonely time for many too, especially the elderly and people who may be sick, depressed or bereaved.
Having seen to the emotional needs of those in our own families, we should also look in on neighbours who may be lonely – some possibly devoid of human contact over Christmas for various reasons – and in need of company and reassurance that they are not forgotten about. Some of them might be too proud or ashamed or shy about reaching out themselves, feeling that they may be a burden on others.
However, as Sean Moynihan, CEO of the charity ALONE, which campaigns on behalf of the elderly, commented this week, ‘no one should feel alone at Christmas.’ So, ALONE is encouraging members of the public to check in with their older neighbours and to show them that you care, as many older people have no friends or family.
Ways that the public can help an older person this Christmas include calling by an older person’s house to say hello, ensuring they have enough food, medication and heat, bringing them out for a drive or to a social event and giving them a hand with their shopping. However, ideally, that help should not stop once the festive season is over.
The mainly fine weather leading up to this Christmas shortened the early part of winter, but we will probably pay for it in the new year, so we should remain conscious of people’s vulnerabilities then too.