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Make sure the elderly aren’t lonely this Christmas

November 5th, 2015 By

Christmas is generally associated with jolly times, great food, friends, family and presents. However, not everybody finds Christmas an amazing holiday. In fact, it is during Christmas that the elderly are at most risk of becoming ill or having an accident. It can sometimes be the period where elderly people are immensely lonely. So what are the dangers of being elderly at Christmas, and how can we stay safe and healthy and help others to be?

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Loneliness

Because Christmas is a time where there is pressure to be with your family, it becomes increasingly depressing if one does not have one. Christmas is the time where there are the most suicides and depression. For elderly people, it is more likely that they have experienced bereavement. Some people may have no loved ones to turn to, which could increase loneliness and depression. Christmas is also a time we are reminded of our family, which could bring back painful memories of the people we have lost.

It’s important to make sure everyone has somewhere to go at Christmas. Families should make an extra effort to make sure they know that they are welcome. Sometimes we may have to speak slower for everyone to hear what is being said. There are also communities which make sure people with no families have somewhere to go for Christmas. One of these places is Community Christmas. They provide support, set up a Christmas lunch and provide an environment where you can make new friends.

Mobility

Christmas takes place during the winter, which is associated with cold, long, dark nights and slippery walkways. Even if the elderly do have a family to go to, getting there may be very difficult. They could slip and fall, or they could be so worried they will fall that they don’t even try. They could have underlying health conditions that make it difficult to leave, for example if they live in a care home. Not leaving the home could further lead to loneliness, or not eating properly.

In order to help elderly people be more confident about getting around at Christmas we can make sure they have good footwear which have good grip. Walking poles would also help to be more sturdy. It may also help to not rush, take time getting places. Also, it is important that if you have an elderly person in your family, to offer to pick them up so that they have somewhere to go safely. Making sure their pathway and driveway isn’t slippery by putting down some gravel would also help.

Flu

Winter is the main flu season. It is easy for anyone to catch a cold, but it is more dangerous for the elderly. It could cause pneumonia or other fatal illnesses. Heating costs are escalating and there have been massive fuel allowance cuts.

It is important to stay warm with clothes and turning up the heating. Clothes in the winter need to be thicker and possible wind and rainproof. It’s important to make sure the central heating is working, as it may be difficult to find someone who can repair it during Christmas. The NHS recommend you see your GP about a flu jab if you are over 65. Some places even offer it for free. It is advisable that this vaccine is taken in early autumn to lower the risk of catching the flu.

Malnutrition

Not only are elderly in danger of malnutrition if they are left on their own over Christmas, but because of the cold weather they are paying a lot more in heating bills. This could lead to less money being left for food. There could be other reasons, as simple as lack of cooking skills, or health conditions and frailty stopping them being able to make food.

Families need to keep an eye on the elderly, making sure they have enough food and money. It is worth inviting them for meals or offering to come to them and cook. There are also local community centres that offer food for people who don’t have anywhere to go at Christmas. These provide a social and festive environment. It’s also important to take into consideration dietary requirements when having an elderly person eat Christmas dinner with you. Christmas food is very fatty and may be dangerous for someone with high cholesterol.

There are small things that can be done to make everyone feel included at Christmas. If you have loved ones that don’t live with you, make an effort to visit them during the holiday period. Offer to take them shopping or help with writing Christmas cards. If you have elderly neighbours, make sure they are okay. Make sure they are warm, have food and company. Something as easy as bringing some chocolate round could brighten someone’s day.

 


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