As we head towards the festive season, and I know it will be here before you know it, it’s time to start to spare a thought for those who will be on their own over the Christmas period.
Last year, the charity Age UK estimated that around half a million people across the UK expected to feel lonely at some point over the Christmas period and that for many of those Christmas isn’t something to look forward to because it brings back too many memories of people who have passed away or of happier times in their lives.
They also estimated that more than 230,000 older people will be on their own for at least one or more days over the Christmas period (from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day) and that for many older people Christmas is “just another day”.
It is a fact of life that as you get older your social network reduces. This is because you may suffer mobility or health problems making it harder for you to get out, or because you may find that as time passes, so do many of your friends meaning that year by year your social circle diminishes. And with family dynamics now so different from what they were even twenty or thirty years ago, with many children living large distances from their parents the sense of isolation can increase further.
This is the time of year to consider those around you. Who in your social circle or of your acquaintances live alone? Who are likely to be on their own over the Christmas period and what can you do to help them?
The answers to these simple questions could provide a happy lifeline to people in your local community. Why not knock on your neighbours door and ask them if they want any festive shopping doing? Why not pop round with a mince pie or two for a chat and a cup of tea, or better still why not lay an extra place at your Christmas table if you are cooking dinner at home and invite them round to join you – I’m sure there will be more than enough to go around.
Likewise, if you are an active member of a club or a society, look at those members that you know who are lonely or are unable to get out over the festive period and why not try and make the effort to visit or engage with them in some way. They will be immensely grateful.
We all need to do our bit to combat loneliness over the Christmas period – and I therefore urge you all to think of just one good deed you can do – I guarantee that if all of us did just one thing many people would be grateful and would find the festive period just that little bit more tolerable!