As the days get shorter and summer memories fade, we all experience a moment of realisation that Christmas will be here before we know it! For some, this dawning comes with boundless excitement, while for others, it comes with a cringe at the inevitable seasonal chaos that is bound to unfold. As we begin the wind-up towards the giddy holiday toing and froing, it’s worth taking a moment to remember what lies at the heart of the festivities: Christmas is a time for spreading good will.
For some of our elderly or vulnerable friends and loved ones, the holiday seasons may be less of a “season to be jolly” and more of a time of challenge. Christmas can be a lonely time of year for those who have experienced bereavement or don’t have family members close by. In 2020, thanks to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, even more of our elders spent the holidays alone—some 1.7 million people over the age of 65 anticipated going solo for the big day. While we can’t yet be sure exactly how this year’s holidays may play out, it’s safe to say that many will be hoping not to experience a repeat of last year!
Happily, we can all get on board with the idea of spreading some extra holiday spirit. There are lots of powerful ways in which we can transform the holiday experience of the seniors and solo flyers in our lives, whether they’re in the neighbourhood, or far away. Read on for our top tips for looking after loved ones at Christmas!
Keep Mobility in Mind
There are few things more beautiful than a crisp winter day, but ice-encrusted pavements and low visibility can make heading out of the house a real Christmas chore. If you have family or friends nearby who may be struggling with getting out and about, why not offer to give them a ride, help them with errands, or even arrange home delivery for their shopping?
Particularly for the elderly, cold weather conditions can mean a big increase in risk of slips and falls. By being there for our loved ones when conditions become a challenge, we can help them stay safe. It’s also important to touch base and ensure that those we care about are managing to stay warm enough at home by wrapping up well, with adequate heating.
Make Time to Get Together
For most families, and especially those with children, the Christmas party and activity schedule can quickly become chock-a-block. Solitary loved ones and seniors may feel disinclined to make a fuss, but don’t forget to make space for them when doing your seasonal planning.
Ask yourself if you can make space at your Christmas table for a lone neighbour or older family member. If not, consider if there’s another spot within the Christmas period that would be ideal for swinging by with some minced pies. Check in first, so they know that you’re coming and that they’re in your thoughts!
Opening Christmas Communication Channels
If you can’t physically be with the ones you love at Christmas, you can still make it easy to connect. Taking a more traditional route, this can mean taking the time to send a thoughtful Christmas card and making a phone call on the big day. If you’d like to get a bit more high-tech about it, why not see if you can help your elderly loved one master the art of video calling?
Age UK estimate that more than half of those over the age of 75 are not online, making seeing the excitement in far-away grandchildren’s eyes all the more tricky. Planning ahead to help your elders with an internet connection, and even arranging a little assistance with Skype or Zoom might be the best gift you could give them.
Attend an Event to Create a Christmas Memory
A fantastic array of events are always popping up over the festive season. Attending a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, a local carol service, or even going for a cup of cocoa in a fairy light-laden location can charge up even the most depleted Christmas spirit batteries!
Often, charities such as Community Christmas and Contact the Elderly coordinate celebratory events that are open to attendees. If, for any reason, the right event isn’t forthcoming, you can always offer to pop by with some Christmas decorations. Just don’t forget to highlight that you’ll also come back to take them down in the New Year!
Small Gestures Make All the Difference
There is so much that we can do to show our loved ones that we care over the course of seasonal celebrations. Even the smallest of gestures can be transformative for those facing the holidays alone. Not to mention, we get to enjoy the sensation of having earned some points for spreading festive cheer!
If you find that you or your loved one require more support this Christmas, reach out to Heritage Independent Living to discover how our dedicated team of carers can assist. From live-in care to daily care solutions, we may be able to help you transform your Yuletide season for the better. Contact our friendly team today to find out more.