While the festive season is, for many, a fun, magical and happy time, there are others who often struggle with loneliness at this time of year. This can be difficult to identify when older people feel this way as they may not want to be a burden or share how they’re feeling with their friends and family.
According to the NHS, hundreds of thousands of elderly people feel lonely and cut off from society, especially those over the age of 75.
There are many different reasons for this, but one is that, in a world which is increasingly more digital, our elderly loved ones possibly feel left out as they struggle to access the benefits of modern technology.
No one should feel alone this Christmas and often sometimes the little things have the potential to make the biggest difference. This blog post will explore some key ways you can help to keep your elderly loves ones from feeling lonely this festive season.
Loneliness at Christmas
According to Age UK, research shows that 1.7 million older people in England can go for a month without meeting up with a friend and that 300,000 over-65s have not even had a conversation with family or friends during the same period. This effect can be exacerbated during the festive season as many are busy getting prepared for the big day.
Research into loneliness during the festive season shows that half a million older people across the UK are expecting to feel lonely at Christmas, and of those surveyed, 52% said that loneliness has become a ‘normal’ part of life.
Why loneliness can be the onset to ill health
Feeling lonely is more than just an unpleasant and isolating feeling, in fact, feeling this way can have a physical impact on both physical and mental health.
Research from the National Institute of Aging has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease, and in some cases even death.
What makes matters worse, some of these consequences of loneliness can increase the likelihood of someone having a fall, which can lead to long hospital stays, medical complications and further isolation.
When we think of falls in winter, many might assume that they happen outside in the cold due to ice or snow, but the reality is that for many, falls this festive season happen at night as older people are getting out of bed or are making a trip to the bathroom. But having a device such as Bide close by to help to prevent night time falls can make all the difference.
In our opinion, we need identify and prevent loneliness in our elderly loved ones. It isn’t always easy to know how best to support our relatives, especially if we do not realise the extent of the problem. Here are some practical ways that we can prevent our relatives feeling lonely, isolated or excluded this festive season.
What we can do to prevent loneliness for our loved ones
1) Send Christmas cards - A small gesture but, for many relatives, displaying cards on their mantle place is a tradition, so a few kind words can make a real difference
2) Set up technology beforehand - If you’re looking to have a digital Christmas meet-up on the big day, make sure the technology is set up beforehand so there are no technical glitches
3) Buy the gift of experience - While socks and festive treats make great Christmas gifts, why not opt for an experience that you can do together?
4) Help with Christmas shopping - Make a day of it, go out for a hot drink or lunch as you potter about the shops. This is a great way to spend time together while ticking a few jobs off the festive to-do list
5) Find out if there are any events for older adults in the area – There might be a coffee morning or a craft group happening locally, so find out if there are any regular events that your relatives might want to go to during the festive season
6) Make time for festive traditions – Whether your family like to open a single present on Christmas Eve or stop by your relatives with homemade baked goods, keeping these traditions alive helps to make our older loved ones feel connected at Christmas
Our mission at Bide
Supporting our older community so that they can live safely and independently at home is part of our mission here at Bide. We understand that for many caregivers and support networks, you simply cannot be there for your loved ones at night when they are their most vulnerable. This is where Bide comes in.
Bide works by detecting movement at night and when the device does, plays a pre-recorded message from a loved one which is often enough to remind them of their whereabouts and to be careful when they get out of bed. This small action plays a vital role in preventing the occurrence of night time falls.
By preventing falls, Bide is able to inspire and enable independent living for its users and give caregivers peace of mind at night when they are less likely to be able to support their loved ones.
What to do now
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Learn more about us, our mission and how we’re supporting independent living at home here.