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How can you help the elderly this Christmas?

Posted on 12/12/2016

With less than two weeks to go until the big day, we turn our thoughts to those who will be spending Christmas alone. A lot of elderly people have no one to spend their day with, especially after the passing of a partner and when there is no other family, or family live far away.

No one should be alone at Christmas – and that is the message coming from a new campaign by ITV’s Good Morning Britain in conjunction with the charity Age UK. 1 Million Minutes is asking people to pledge anything from as little as 15 minutes of their time to help an older person living in isolation, with a goal of 1 million minutes pledged this festive season.

The campaign goal is not random – there are over 1 million older people in England alone who are chronically lonely, with little contact with family or friends. Loneliness is one of the biggest issues facing the older generation, with severe consequences. Not only does a lack of interaction lead to depression, anxiety and other metal illnesses, if there is little contact with the outside world, health issues might not be noticed quick enough.

The ITV/Age UK campaign highlights just some of the ways that you can make a difference this year, including community befriending services, weekly calls and more. The issue is becoming so prominent that there are community services cropping up all over the nation. There is sure to be something in your local area that enables you to make a difference.

For example, Contact the Elderly is organising monthly afternoon tea parties for those aged 75 or over, who live alone, to give them a chance to interact with others and build friendships. It is entirely run by volunteers, so there is always a chance to make a difference.

If you’re the active type, then take a look at GoodGym, which combines getting fit with local community-based activities, including befriending older people. Some of the tasks are physical and of benefit to the community and individuals, with one-off ‘Missions’ available to do. Or you can commit to a weekly social visit, tied in with a run, so that an older person sees a regular friendly face.

If you can’t find anything suitable in your local community, then you could be the face of change and make a personal gesture. Lots of small businesses are giving back this year; an article in The Telegraph highlighted the businesses all over the UK that are putting on events on Christmas Day for those who might otherwise be alone, including the homeless and the elderly. Community Christmas is a good resource for those who want to set up something new, or advertise a local event to help the elderly this year.

If you decide to get involved, we’d love to hear about what you have been up to. Give us a tweet on @YtBoss_UK. 

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