Charity Director, Age UK
This year the threat of loneliness older people face is something else entirely, even from a distance, we can all play a role in supporting older people this Christmas.
We are more worried than ever this year about loneliness among our older population. The coronavirus pandemic is adding insult to injury: it presents our older people with a potentially deadly threat, whilst also fuelling a process of enforced isolation as we strive to control its spread, putting many at great risk of loneliness.
Loneliness is always a concern, to a degree, as winter comes in. Even at the best of times dark nights and bad weather make it hard for many older people to get out, reducing those casual contacts that help keep chronic loneliness at bay. But this year the threat of isolation they face is something else entirely.
Many older people have benefited hugely from the ongoing support of family and friends during the pandemic and we’re immensely grateful for that.
Some older people have barely left their homes this year
We have heard from older people who are too anxious about the risk of infection to venture out much at all, so for them ‘winter has come early’ and there’s no end yet in sight.
Some have barely left the sanctuary of their homes since the pandemic began. Even now, despite the promise of a vaccine, they probably face a good five months or so of being cooped up inside, often without the company they crave.
It’s true that many older people have benefited hugely from the ongoing support of family and friends during the pandemic and we’re immensely grateful for that. We also know from our research that anyone online has generally found it much easier to stay connected. Others live in friendly communities which have very kindly befriended the older people in their midst. Unfortunately, this still leaves plenty of older people who are enduring the pandemic alone, and behind closed doors.
No one should have no one
There are things we can all do to be of assistance and support to any older person who may be struggling – offering to pick up shopping or run errands, for example, as well as keeping in touch with older relatives and friends. But above all, in this exceptional year we are calling for donations, so we can respond to the many requests for our friendship and support that we know will just keep on coming as Christmas approaches, and so no older person need feel overlooked and alone.