Rushing from the post office to the grocery store to the farmers market this Christmas, it can be easy to get wrapped up in your own personal plans. However, while the rest of us look forward to meals and events with family and friends, a disturbing number of senior citizens will spend Christmas time alone. Recent figures suggest that 2.8 million older people are not looking forward to Christmas, and that 450,000 over-65’s will spend Chrismas Day on their own. These worrying stats show that for those who have been described as the ‘forgotten million’, Christmas can be far from merry.
Just one small gesture can make the world of difference, so take some inspiration from these easy ways to make an elderly person’s Christmas this year.
Remember your relatives
You might not have much in common with Great Uncle Bernard but that’s no reason not to include him. Getting relatives to Christmas dinner might be tricky if they are no longer confident leaving the house and don’t like to travel, so offer to come and visit them. If they are keen to come for the whole day, show that you’ve considered their needs by arranging transport and accommodation well in advance. You might also need to take diet requirements into consideration, but try to be flexible. This will give everyone peace of mind as well as making them feel welcome.
Many older people say that they don’t want any presents, but try to get them something small so they aren’t left watching as everyone else rips into their gifts. Think practical, like sweets, soap or socks, as these show you’ve made an effort without looking too flash. Alternatively, if you know your relative is a keen festive fan, try to include them with a fun gift. Go for something silly like a comedy DVD, gag gift or one of the fun men’s Christmas jumpers available at Littlewoods.
Be nice to your neighbours
Sadly, it’s likely that there are some people in your neighborhood who will be spending Christmas alone this year. If you happen to know of a neighbour who doesn’t have any family or plans, try to connect with them yourself. Some people can be understandably wary of strangers, so tread carefully. Pop a Christmas card through their door introducing yourself, offering to take them shopping or pick up things they might need, and include your phone number so they can call you if they need you. If you know they’ll be alone on Christmas Day, offer to come round on the morning itself. You could even go the extra mile and deliver some homemade Christmas treats. Mince pies are a classic that are bound to please, as are a few slices of luxurious Christmas cake.
Help out strangers
If these stats have inspired you to look further afield, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer your time to help in your community. Age UK are always looking for helpers with a variety of skills, including gardeners, drivers and IT coaches, while Friends of the Elderly are running various activities for elderly people on their own this Christmas. It’s a busy time of year for everyone, but just giving up a few hours a week can make all the difference to someone whose only other form of company are the TV specials.