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Tips to help the elderly this Christmas

6 tips for helping the elderly this festive season

Arrange a visit

Take the time to call

Help with their shopping

Help with Christmas decorations

Offer to drive them to an event

Join a Christmas event with them


Arrange a visit

Christmas can be a wonderful time of year for some – seeing loved ones, buying presents, and overindulging in mince pies – but for many older people it can also be an unwelcome reminder of loneliness. Being bombarded with images of family reunions and joyful occasions can be hard for people who may not have family living nearby or don’t have a wide social circle, so everyone should pause during the festivities and consider the wellbeing of older people who live nearby. Arranging a Christmas visit to spend some time with elderly neighbours, friends, or family during the festive season is a wonderful way to bring some cheer to someone who’ll appreciate it, but there are ground rules to consider before doing so.

Don’t turn up unannounced – This could be discomforting for the person if they’re not expecting visitors, especially as the nights draw in. If they live with frailties it could also require a lot of effort for them to come to the front door, so they may be grateful to know in advance that they’re opening it to people they want to see. Some people also don’t appreciate persons calling without prior warning and may consider it socially unacceptable.

Ensure they actually want a visit – It’s fair to say that some people are pretty happy in their own company, and it shouldn’t be presumed that just because a person lives alone, they are lonely. Many older people have a wide social circle outside of their homes and may therefore consider their house to be their sanctuary. A kind gesture could then be misconstrued as interfering or ‘bothering’, leading to embarrassment and potential bad feeling all round.

Don’t force your idea of a good Christmas onto others – Some people love a festive season full of laughter, music, and alcohol, whereas others prefer to spend it in quiet contemplation of another year completed, so ensure you understand how the other person likes to celebrate and respect it. Turning up at someone’s house with a karaoke machine and a large bottle of vodka may not go down well if they’re teetotallers who prefer opera, so find out how they would like to celebrate and compromise if necessary.


Take the time to call

Everyone is busy in the run-up to the festive season and routines can get stretched to breaking point with so much to organise. Even so, making time to get in touch with loved ones or friends who are further away can be as easy as picking up the phone in a quiet moment. Even better, if they’re tech-savvy, then they probably enjoy receiving video calls, seeing the faces of loved ones as well as hearing them. Taking a few moments out of a busy day to check in with loved ones can also provide a chance to focus on something other than hectic plans.


Help with their shopping

Older relatives will usually enjoy buying family members something nice for Christmas, especially their grandchildren, but they may appreciate some assistance with sourcing suitable gifts. It’s a myth that elderly people don’t use the internet or know how to order items online; however, not everyone will, and they may be grateful for your input. Most people also like to have some extra groceries or drinks in over the festive season to ensure that visitors always get a chance to share a toast. Therefore, taking them to a supermarket or farm shop to stock up is another way that we can help loved ones prepare for the festivities.


Help with Christmas decorations

Not everyone likes to put up decorations for Christmas, feeling that without children in the house to enjoy them there isn’t much point. Other people go to extremes and deck their house from top to bottom with lights, trees, and ornaments, revelling in the pleasure it gives them and others who see them. If your loved one isn’t interested in Christmas, it might be that they don’t have the energy to put decorations up or make extra preparations, so find it easier to say they would rather avoid it. Gently investigating if they would like some subtle decorations around their home may provoke an unexpected reaction, especially if it becomes an activity they can share with children in the family.


Offer to drive them to an event

Many places put up attractive Christmas displays in the weeks approaching the festive season, whether it’s a garden centre, farm park, or department store. Taking a loved one to see displays and doing some early Christmas shopping at the same time can be a pleasant day out for everyone and help to stimulate some seasonal enthusiasm too. Getting involved in an event that other people of a similar age may be attending could also be a way for your loved one to meet others in their situation, meaning they get to enlarge their social circle too.


Join a Christmas event at their local community centre or church

Your friend or loved one may already attend church, a day centre, or enjoy other local activities, meaning they have social outlets that enable them to meet others regularly. At Christmas, though, they may appreciate you being able to attend with them, so they can introduce you to people they enjoy spending time with. That may make them feel synchronicity in every aspect of their life and mean they are much happier and content.

Living a long way from elderly parents can mean inevitable guilt, worrying that they’re eating properly, taking medication correctly and not lonely. Having regular care from Helping Hands means you can be reassured that their everyday needs will be taken care of and enjoy companionship whenever they feel like it. Calling our friendly customer care team will answer all your questions about what we can provide and help you and your loved ones decide the type of care they prefer.