Remembering Older Relatives and Neighbours

Care.com's tips on remembering the elderly at Christmas. Making your elderly neighbour feel welcome at Christmas is a wonderful way to spread festive cheer!

Christmas can be a lonely time for older people; their children have grown, left home and have families of their own to worry about. Some, sadly, may have lost their husband, wife or old friends and feel isolated.

While your own preparations may seem never-ending, here are some ideas to help make "the most wonderful time of the year" live up to its name for your older relatives and neighbours:

 
Check on them regularly.
Could you visit once a week? Just popping in to share a cup of tea and chat for half an hour might make your neighbour feel less alone if they do not have friends or family nearby, or remind your relatives that they have not been forgotten. Let them know that they are welcome to telephone you should they need anything even if is just to talk for a few minutes. If you live away from your older relatives, arrange to talk on the phone every couple of days.

 
Make sure they are warm.
As temperatures drop the elderly quickly notice the change; check that they are aware of their Winter Fuel Allowance and are getting the best use out of it. You could help by bleeding their radiators, sealing any gaps in window or door frames that might let in draughts and ensuring that they have enough warm clothing.

 
Offer to help with shopping.
Before heading out to the supermarket to do your weekly shop call round to ask if your neighbour or relative would like to come or if they have a list you can take for them. You could also extend this to taking them to doctor's appointments or collecting prescriptions so that they needn't go out if the weather is particularly inclement.

 
Invite them in.
If you are having a few of the neighbours round for mince pies and mulled wine don't forget to ask those who are a little older; this could provide an opportunity for them to meet new people, some of whom could offer to help out too and widen your older neighbour's opportunities for social contact.

 
Include them in your Christmas dinner.
If you have siblings who also live in close proximity to your parents you might take it in turns to host them for Christmas day or perhaps, if family size allows, all celebrate together to share the tasks of cooking, watching the children and entertaining your older relatives.

 

Be careful not to take on too much; ask for help from your family or other neighbours if you are unable to do everything and don't be embarrassed if you have to say "No" or "Not at the moment" to a request. If you can find a balance between helping everyone else and making time for yourself everyone should be able to enjoy Christmas.

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