The holidays are a time for friends and family yet, for some people, the holidays can be the hardest, and loneliest, time of the year.
An 'Age UK' survey found half a million older people expect to feel lonely over the festive period. To them, it's 'just another day.’ Yet four in five people have not sought any help and it's not unusual for over-65s to go a whole month without speaking to friends and family.
There are many reasons why people might feel lonely at Christmas, from being reminded of lost loved ones, to feeling anxious or left out of the seemingly endless social events over the festive period.
Psychologist Joanna Konstantopoulou, founder of the Health Psychology Clinic, offers the following advice on how to identify if an elderly person is suffering with loneliness.
Isolating themselves and spending a lot of time at home,
Not seeking social interactions like they used to,
Not eating well,
Having negative thoughts,
Watching more TV than usual, and/or
Having a fear of becoming a burden to their family, which makes them avoid contact with them?
Konstantopoulou says, "People with anxiety and loneliness might worry they'll bring those around them down or be a burden, but it's always better to talk than suffer in silence."
"If you know someone is struggling with any of the above around Christmas time," says Konstantopoulou, "you should try to distract them with some festive activities." Concludes Konstantopoulou, "When someone is suffering from loneliness, it's important to let them know that they are not alone - as obvious as that may seem."
In addressing loneliness and isolation, Konstantopoulou suggests...
Pick up the phone and call
Go for coffee
Invite them over
Share news of festive events you are planning to attend
Encourage them to make plans too, and
Invite them around on Christmas Day, if you know they haven't been invited elsewhere.
These might seem like small gestures but they could make a world of difference.
"Finally, make a new holiday tradition with them," adds Konstantopoulou. "This will make them feel like they are part of something unique and special, reminding them that they are not alone."
Tackling Loneliness At Christmas
By Katie Wilson, Daily Mail