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29 November 2019

What Can You Do to Help a Lonely Person This Christmas?

This Costs You Nothing but Will Mean the World to a Lonely Person

A few simple acts of kindness and consideration can make a huge difference to the lives of many, especially those feeling lonely this Christmas.

Imagine if you were suddenly cut off from your friends, family, work colleagues and everybody you interact with daily, wandering around an empty home with only the echoes of your footsteps for company. When you venture outside, you’re seen but never noticed. How long could you stand it? A few hours, a day, a week? How would you start to feel inside? What if your life was a prospect of this, day after day, seemingly without end?

A World Without Words

If the thought of that type of loneliness fills you with sadness or even horror, now consider that there are over a million older people living among us for whom that is the daily reality. They can go a whole month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. 225,000 elderly people often go a whole week without speaking to anyone at all (Age UK).

Not surprisingly, this can have a crushing effect on wellbeing and mental and physical health.

What Does a Lonely Person Look Like?

How would you know if somebody was lonely? They’re probably not going to tell you or ask for help. Pride and the stigma surrounding loneliness and mental health will get in the way. This means it’s up to the rest of us to take the initiative and be a bit more vigilant and a bit more caring.

What to look out for:

  • Most people won’t admit they are lonely, but they might give verbal clues like saying they never see anyone.
  • If someone you know seems down or depressed, or if they never seem to want to end a conversation, it could be down to loneliness.
  • Lonely people sometimes complain about imaginary illnesses.

Feeling lonely isn’t just restricted to Christmas. Many elderly people experience loneliness all year round, often being unable to venture outside and talk to anyone for weeks. It is important to work together to help combat loneliness and improve the wellbeing of other members of the community. 

There are simple ways you can help:

  • Start a conversation with an older person.
  • Call an older relative.
  • Check in with an older neighbour.
  • Volunteer within the community or with charities like AgeUK.

The first three of these may seem trivial and insignificant, but to somebody who is experiencing loneliness, they could mean the world.

The power of ‘giving your words’ is encapsulated in the Cadbury’s campaign that aims to raise money for Age UK. They donate 30p for each special edition chocolate bar sold with no words on the packaging. It’s not just about the donations, it’s also bringing home the message that a simple conversation and a few words can make all the difference to a lonely person.

We believe in supporting vulnerable people in a community that we are part of, at Christmas and all year round. To find out more about how we help the community, read our Christmas article here.

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