Christmas is about spending time with family and friends, but it was estimated that over 500,000 older spent Christmas alone with half of all older people (approximately 5 million) saying that the TV is their main form of company.
The effects of isolation - including loneliness, depression, feelings of low self-worth, poor health and diet can be devastating with isolated individuals being less likely to obtain the services they need or seek help. Loneliness has also been found to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 50%.
During our Friends Open Doors campaign, we:
Opened the doors of our care homes and services by providing over 100 free extra festive lunches for older people from the wider communities around them who would otherwise have spent the Christmas period alone
Called for ‘Christmas Maker’ volunteers to join in with the older people in their communities by donating Christmas decorations and an hour and a half of their time to decorate their local Friends of the Elderly care home or service. We were overwhlemed by nearly 100 people offering their time and good cheer.
Encouraged people to open their doors and remember the older people behind closed doors in their neighborhoods, a simple gesture of human kindness can make a world of difference to a lonely older person. For example:
- If you see an older person struggling, for example in the supermarket, ask them if you can help – and then stop to
have a chat if they want
- Don’t forget your own older relatives and friends – try to call or visit them. Stay in touch
- Remember older people’s birthdays – send them a card (we have a corporate partnership with SmartSenda.com whose handy planner enables you to easily remember birthdays and special occasions throughout the year. Also every card purchased includes a donation to FotE)
- Regularly check on older neighbours or friends – drop by for a chat
- Become a volunteer – either with us or find other volunteering opportunities at Do.it.org.uk
- Support Friends of the Elderly to provide more services – donate now!
 Christmas Omnibus Survey (unpublished), TNS Omnibus research for Age UK 201
 Agenda for Later Life, Age UK, 2010