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How you can help tackle loneliness amongst older people this winter

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Now that the clocks have gone back, the long nights are drawing in much earlier. Over the coming months, feelings of loneliness and isolation can become more and more commonplace.

The colder, shorter days often make it more likely for older people to feel cut off from others. This is largely down to factors like receiving fewer visitors or not being able to go out themselves.

Whether they’re family members, friends or people in the community, it’s important to recognise when someone might be dealing with loneliness in their own home. There are also plenty of ways you can offer help and support to anyone who feels socially isolated.

Go to visit

If you know of an older person who lives alone, it’s always a good idea to check in on them from time to time. People who live alone tend to spend most of their time without the company of others, so either a planned visit or a surprise drop-in can go a long way.

It could be a widowed family member or an elderly neighbour living alone. Whoever you go to visit, simply having a quick chat over a tea or coffee could really help to brighten up someone’s day, even if you may not realise it.

Offer regular help

For those who find it difficult to carry out tasks or leave the house to run errands, a helping hand can really lighten the load. The older we get, the trickier it can be to handle some of the most basic tasks many of us take for granted.

All it takes is a quick phone call to ask how they’re getting on and if there’s anything they’re struggling with on their own. From something as simple as taking out the rubbish to accompanying them on a trip to the shops, volunteering your time and support will always be greatly appreciated.

Invite to dinner

How about setting an extra place at the table for your Sunday dinner? It’s often a nice idea to invite someone to dinner, especially when they’d otherwise spend the day alone at home. There are many new initiatives across the country, like The Casserole Club and the Bisto Together Project that encourage families to reach out to people who would otherwise be lonely.

And if someone isn’t able to come to you, why not plate up an extra portion and take it to them? It will be a wonderful gesture to show somebody that they haven’t been forgotten about and it even saves them the trouble of making dinner for a night!

Other things to think about

Older people are particularly more vulnerable to illnesses during the winter months, so try watching out for any early warning signs when spending time with them. When someone lives alone, it’s common that they might not ask for help as they may feel they’re being a bother.

By offering your own time, support and companionship, you can ensure that someone living alone doesn’t necessarily have to feel lonely this winter.

For more information, tips and ideas on how you can help people living on their own, check out the Campaign to End Loneliness website. They are an organisation dedicated to making connections between people of all ages right across the UK.