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January Can Be the Loneliest Month for Older People

Research carried out by the Co-op revealed that for people of all ages, January is the month when they are most likely to experience loneliness. And it’s easy to see why: cold weather, short days and fewer opportunities to get out and meet people. ‘Blue Monday’ is the notorious 3rd Monday in January that is thought to be the most depressing of the year.

Now imagine how that feels for an older person living on their own. They may have been one of the more fortunate ones that had company and attention over Christmas. Then, once the New Year is in, everyone’s back to their normal routine and may be preoccupied with how to pay for the festivities just gone.

It’s easy to assume that we’ve done our bit by popping in to see an elderly relative or neighbour over the holiday period. And these visits are valued. It’s just that it’s hard if this is followed by weeks of seeing nobody.

Loneliness has a major impact on wellbeing, so how can wellbeing be improved in January?

In our care homes we ensure that people are kept occupied all year round with activities and are surrounded by people in a sociable environment. The question is, how this approach can be applied to people who receive care at home. It’s certainly much harder when it relies on busy people being able to find a few hours here and there in a busy life.

The reality is that people in residential care are less likely to experience loneliness and can enjoy better mental wellbeing as a result. There are activities such as puzzles, games, singing and visits arranged. Care homes can also look after other aspects that contribute to wellbeing such as eating a nutritious diet and taking regular exercise.

For many, a care home offers a more sociable environment compared to living at home, which can promote better health and wellbeing – in January and throughout the year.

Contact us at 01305 206 140 or email contact@altogethercare.co.uk for more information about our services and care homes.

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.

Tackling Loneliness this Christmas with Wiltshire Farm Foods

For Christmas 2019, Altogether Care is again teaming up with Wiltshire Farm Foods to bring some Christmas Day cheer to elderly people across Dorset and South Somerset.

As a family-run care business for over 30 years, you really get to know the communities you serve. This means, when it comes to Christmas, we are only too aware that many older people could be faced with a very lonely prospect. For many, Christmas is a time when they see no one and feel very much alone.

According to Age UK, over 870,000 people over 65 won’t see or hear from anybody for days over the festive period. Many people will feel lonelier at Christmas than at any other time of the year. This is not exactly the Christmas spirit that everyone envisions over Christmas.

Determined to make sure that old people in our community who live on their own see at least one smiling face on Christmas Day, Altogether Care has, once again, partnered with Wiltshire Farm Foods. Working together, we will provide 120 free Christmas dinners to elderly people across Dorset and South Somerset.

This year our team will be distributing meals on Christmas Day, kindly donated by Wiltshire Farm Foods. Just as important as the meals, our care staff will spend time with each person. We will also be setting up Facetime and Skype so that clients can talk to their relatives on the day. Everyone will be provided with a delicious Christmas pudding and cracker to pull.

As ever, we are incredibly grateful to Wiltshire Farm Foods for their generosity. And to our dedicated team who give up their time because they know that older people on their own probably need us more than ever at Christmas.

Care is much more than a business for us. We see our role as supporting vulnerable people in a community that we are part of, at Christmas and all year round. For more information, please call 01305 766 099 and ask for Dawn or Rachel.

Altogether Care and Wiltshire Farm Foods Spread Some Seasonal Cheer

As a family-run care business for over 30 years, you really get to know the communities you serve. Which means, when it comes to Christmas, we are only too aware that many older people could be faced with a very lonely prospect. For many, Christmas is a time when they see no one and feel very much alone.

According to Age UK, over 870,000 people over 65 won’t see or hear from anybody for days over the festive period. Many will feel lonelier than at any other time of the year. Not exactly the Christmas spirit.

Determined to make sure that old people in our community who live on their own see at least one smiling face on Christmas Day, Altogether Care has, once again, partnered with Wiltshire Farm Foods. Working together, we will provide free Christmas dinners to elderly people across Dorset and South Somerset.

This year our team will be distributing meals on Christmas Day, kindly donated by Wiltshire Farm Foods. Just as important as the meals, our care staff will spend time with each person to enjoy a mince pie, pull a cracker and spread a little Christmas cheer.

Some of the people who will benefit are our Care at Home clients who have no friends or family to visit on the day. We are also teaming up with Age UK to identify other people in the Dorset and South Somerset area who would appreciate a bit of company and a tasty festive meal.

We are, as ever, incredibly grateful to Wiltshire Farm Foods for their generosity. And to our dedicated team who give up their time because they know that, at Christmas, older people on their own probably need us more than ever.

Care is much more than a business for us. We see our role as supporting vulnerable people in a community that we are part of, at Christmas and all year round. For more information, please call 01305 766 099 and ask for Dawn or Rachel.

Loneliness: And how it can be minimised within the elderly

Loneliness is a feeling that many people will experience at least once in their lives, whether
it’s from being isolated at school, moving to university, becoming a stay at home parent, having mobility issues, bereavement or retiring. The feeling for many cannot be described easily, it is not only emotional but it can also affect overall physical and mental health.
Our outlook on life can also be affected, which then makes for a vicious circle, becoming ever more socially isolated and lonely.

The group to be most affected by loneliness is often older people; a mixture of retirement, loss of a partner, difficulties with independence & mobility and not living close to their family can make loneliness a sad inevitability. Research from Age UK indicates 200,000 older people in the UK have not had a conversation with friends or family for a month and 3.9 million agree their television is their main form of company. So what can be done to beat loneliness before it strikes?

Social activity

Social activity is important in all walks of life – it gives us the opportunity to talk, engage in hobbies and get out and about. Loneliness is often associated with social isolation so part of beating this issue can be found in the engagement with social activities. Dancing clubs, art and book groups, charity volunteering and befriending programmes are a great way to maintaining wellbeing whilst being social.

Knowing who can help

It can be difficult to get the ball rolling; knowing where to find clubs, the ability to access them and keeping the momentum going. But there are many organisations out there to help – British Red Cross run many local projects to help older people retain their independence and beat loneliness. Age UK is another great source of advice, guidance and local projects to help combat loneliness.

For those in care, accessing different clubs can be more difficult however, social activity can be promoted through clubs, entertainment and activities being brought to you. This is something that is seen at Altogether Care. Having an active social calendar within homes encourages social interaction, gives variance between the days and promotes wellbeing. Even if your loved one is coming to stay for a short period of respite care, we still encourage them to get involved with social activities which they may not get the chance to normally.

Nobody should feel alone when it can be so easily combatted.

Some recent day to day activities