Generally, older people enjoy the lead up to Christmas, all the preparation is part of getting into the seasonal spirit as well as being enjoyable to do. Although many still want to do all of these things, they may not be able to cope with it like they used to.
Loneliness can also be a barrier to Christmas magic for vulnerable people and new figures from Age UK suggest nearly a million older people feel lonelier at this time of year.
If you have older relatives who are not spending time with you this Christmas but you want to ensure they are able to enjoy it, 0r you may live near an elderly person living alone, or even an elderly couple, there are things you can help with that can keep the magic of Christmas this year. Many older people would appreciate the offer of help. The spirit of Christmas is coming together to ensure everyone enjoys the festivities.
Below you can find a list of actions which will go a long way this Christmas. Whether it be assisting a elderly parent, relative, friend or neighbour.
Putting up the Christmas tree and decorations
Older people may need assistance with moving the tree and reaching the higher branches if they prefer a larger tree. Alternatively you can give them the idea of getting a smaller tree, or getting the materials to make a table decoration which is easier to create while sitting down.
Write and send Christmas cards
Reaching all those friends and family amassed over the years can be a large task, even writing just a handful of cards can be harder as you are older. Sight might not be what it used to, and the hands may not be steady enough to write.
A helping hand may be gratefully received. If your loved one is a crafty person, they might like some help in making Christmas Cards. It can also be nice if vision is impaired, to read out their received cards and letters for them.
Christmas shopping and online assistance
It can be difficult for those with limited mobility to get themselves to the shops, plus they might be missing out on some thrifty savings and ideas by going online. You could help initiate some silver surfers this Christmas.
Attend a Christmas carol service or place a wreath at a churchyard
It’s important not to lose the true meaning of Christmas and singing carols will be welcome childhood nostalgia for many.
Laying a wreath or flowers at the cemetary to remember a lost loved one can be a welcome activity for you to help with. As can be assisting the person to attend a church service.
A minimalist approach to decorations may be more appropriate for a person living with dementia. Flashing lights and unfamiliar shapes can be distressing.
Creating a table decoration or making cards can be an engaging activity to enjoy with a person with dementia.
Clean and tidy house ready for visitors
If an elderly person you know mentions hosting family and friends, it can be difficult for them to get the cleaning done, along with all the other preparations, you can offer to help ensure the home is in order before guests arrive.
Do some festive baking
Food is one of the most enjoyable part of the Christmas experience, baking special treats to enjoy can be a fun activity to do together. Why not ask an elderly relative or friend if they used to bake at Christmans, and if so, what did they bake? You could offer to do baking together and talk about the old days. You might even learn a new recipe.
Attending a Midnight Service
The clock striking Midnight is a magical time not to be missed. It’s also a chance to meet up with others in the community.
There will be churches holding Midnight Mass, however they often hold these earlier in the evening now. Have a look and see what is available at your local churches.
Going to the Pantomime or a local festive amateur dramatics
Laughter and entertainment is a fun part of the festive season. Taking someone for a trip to the theatre for a pantomime is a really lovely opportunity to get together. Alternatively, many places put on a community amateur dramatics performance near Christmas time.
Every year we see first-hand that December can be a lonely time for some. Either through assisting with the things listed above yourself or by employing a Support Assistant, you can help bring joy to someone’s Christmas.