Christmas is a time when many family and friends will get together to celebrate and socialize. It is important then to take a moment and think about and to reach out to those in our communities who may not have this experience this year. As we age people will experience loss as a result of movement of family and friends, changes in circumstances (i.e. retirement) and death – it is all a part of life. That is why it is important to keep an eye out this jolly season on older neighbors who may benefit from some time spent with them.
Whether you are passing someone on the street or checking in on your next door neighbours, people often just need someone willing to listen. By taking the time to ask how people are or dig deeper into their lives and history, you can learn a thing or two while providing some much-needed connection! If you have older neighbours with limited mobility, offering to help them write Christmas cards, hanging decorations, cooking, present shopping and generally bringing Christmas to them if they aren’t able to do these things themselves. Also, it might be an obvious one, but there are many charities working overtime this Christmas to support members of the community in need. Whether it is paying a visit to an aged care home to sit and talk with someone, or preparing meals, there are many ways you can lend a hand and make a difference
If you are concerned about a friend or loved one, and if they have expressed an interest in meeting new people there are many options in the community for them.
Community groups are a great way for people to connect. You can find these listed here on Eldernet. There are a multitude of groups all over the country, many providing different activities and are suitable for a wide range of needs. Many retirement facilities and community organisations run day programs that you can be a part of. Take a look here to see some options on Eldernet here and here. Some of these programs do hold a DHB contracts, therefore are subsidised. Others may hold a DHB contract because they are a provider who is based on Kaupapa Maori philosophy and practice. There are also options for those who have dementia.
Your local Age Concern also has a tremendous amount of information that could be beneficial. Many also run group activities that your loved one could attend to learn new skills and make new friends. Many also offer visiting services if you would like someone to “check in” on a loved one if you cannot.
Our Where from Here books also hold this type of information for those people who prefer looking at something on paper rather than on a screen. Your local Age Concern and library stock these books and are completely free. You can also order a book here via our Care Publication’s website. These do incur a $5 fee.
Just remember, if you do know someone in your community who you think might be lonely it takes 5 minutes to knock on their front door and just check if they are ok. If you do have longer, stay and talk with them for a bit. You just do not know what could make someone’s day.
This Christmas, give your time, words and your presence not just presents!