With Christmas almost upon us, people across Worcestershire are being asked to take time to make sure their elderly neighbours are not alone during the festive season.
More than 1 million older people nationwide are chronically lonely, with an estimated 35,000 in Worcestershire alone. Many older people may find themselves on their own for the first time this year due to the loss of a loved one or they may have families who do not live nearby.
With national drives such as ITV’s ‘1 million minutes’ and Age UK’s ‘No one should have no one’ campaigns in the news, Worcestershire County Council is encouraging residents to help support their elderly neighbours this Christmas.
There are many ways people can support their elderly neighbours:
Call in and say Hello – let your elderly neighbours know you are available to help them, and give them your telephone number to reach you if needed.
Check on prescriptions – make sure they have adequate supplies of repeat prescriptions and medications to cover them during the holiday period.
Food supplies - check that they are adequately stocked with food supplies for the festive period. Fresh milk, bread and butter are staples that will save them leaving the house if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Heating – talk to them about the importance of being warm. Check that their heating and other utility supplies are working properly. Ensure they have emergency contact details in the event of any problems.
Invite them round for Christmas dinner or a family meal – help them enjoy their Christmas too. Being part of your celebrations can give elderly neighbours a real boost and let them know that their friends and neighbours care about them.
Support their return from hospital - If you know of elderly neighbours or relatives in hospital who are ready to be discharged, find out how you can help them home for Christmas. Research shows that patients are much happier in their own homes than in a hospital ward over the festive period and it helps aid their recovery.
Cllr Sheila Blagg, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Adult Social Care, said: “For most of us, Christmas is a time for celebration and a time to spend with family but for too many older people it can be a lonely time and bring with it heart-breaking vulnerability. Many elderly people in our community will spend Christmas alone and isolated, which can also have a terrible impact on their physical and mental health.
"Everybody can play an important role in preventing this, and ensure older people feel valued and included at Christmas. Call in and check on your elderly neighbours, spending a little time to show you care. You can make all the difference."
For more information on how to stay well over winter www.nhs.uk/staywell