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Fighting loneliness this Christmas

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Loneliness at Christmas time has often been a common problem year after year. However, under the conditions of the ongoing pandemic, it’s never been more important for us to ensure that we do all we can for those facing loneliness this winter.

Living through the pandemic restrictions this year has felt like an isolating experience for so many of us at times, but constant loneliness is often a reality for many older and vulnerable people. It’s a feeling that can easily be made worse amongst the joy and festivities of Christmas.

This year, it’s likely to be much tougher for those living alone because of restrictions on gatherings we’ve all faced since March. While the Government has announced a slight easing of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas, there are still limitations on who can meet up and for how long.

From 23rd to 27th December, members of up to three households will be able to form a social ‘bubble’ with each other. This means potentially having to prioritise which family members or close friends will be able to spend time together over the five day period.

How this Christmas will be different

Everyone will have had their own experiences during the various lockdowns this year, as well as their own ways of coping with the peculiar situation. While many older people and those loved ones living alone may be used to it, feelings of isolation can get worse over the festive period.

We can typically combat this by inviting our family, friends and neighbours to come together throughout Christmas. However, the restrictions in place this year will limit any groups to no more than three households. This could mean families having to prioritise who they should form a “bubble” with and who might potentially be left out.

In addition, older relatives and neighbours may feel particularly concerned about joining in the festivities with members of other households. Those over the age of 70 have been more severely affected by COVID-19 this year, so it’s understandable that many older people may want to stay away from larger groups at the moment.

Individual families will need to decide the best approach for themselves and their loved ones this year; taking note of restrictions, personal concerns and making alternative arrangements where necessary to ensure nobody truly faces the holiday alone.

Keeping connected with each other

One of the major positives to come out of 2020 was our increased use of technology to regularly stay in touch. From longer phone calls to video conferencing, so many of us have become more familiar with using modern devices and scheduling calls a bit more often than we normally might have done before.

Even if a person lives with no internet access or is unfamiliar with newer technology, there’s nothing wrong with making regular phone calls to keep close with loved ones. Daily conversations can help to keep spirits high and provide a sense of comfort and companionship to someone who might otherwise spend their days alone.

There may also still be a little time left to send small gifts and cards in the post. This helps to show you care and that you’re thinking of a person, even though you might not be able to make contact. If time is really running out, why not try to do some online shopping to send a gift. Most online stores offer gift options now, so all you need to do is find the ideal gift, place an order and supply the recipient’s address.

And whatever happens, enjoy your Christmas

However your Christmas holidays turn out this year, it’s almost certainly going to be different than normal. Whether someone is spending time alone or simply with fewer people than they typically would, we can still enjoy ourselves with some scaled-back celebrations.

It may certainly be disappointing that we’re not able to celebrate in the same ways as before, but that shouldn’t be a dampener on our spirits. Preparations for Christmas can often feel busy, manic and stressful. The strange situation of this year offers all of us a chance to slow things down and ease the pressure a bit.

Whilst levels of loneliness can be quite high – particularly during winter – we’ve all become very good at taking collective responsibility and reaching out in other ways throughout 2020. By continuing this spirit of good will and companionship, we can ensure our loved ones don’t feel so lonely over the festive period.

Please remember to help keep yourselves, your loved ones and others around you safe this winter. Finally, on behalf of everyone at SureCare Head Office and our care teams across the country, we want to wish you a very happy and healthy Christmas.