Christmas and the festive period is meant to be a happy time for all, but for some it is the most difficult time of the year and can highlight their loneliness or vulnerability. Older people, especially those who are more vulnerable, can become isolated in the winter months and the cold weather can have a serious impact on their health.
Dr Pervez Muzaffar, a GP in Darwen and a clinical lead at Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“Elderly people are often lonely due to the fact they have little interaction with others during the day. Many elderly people just enjoy talking with others and you stopping by just to chat can make their day.
“Checking on an elderly neighbour can make a huge difference, helping to prevent loneliness and making sure they are safe. It is the perfect opportunity to check their house is warm and they have enough food in to see them through a spell of bad weather.
Every winter, one older person dies every seven minutes from the cold weather. Many of these deaths could be prevented if everyone lived in a warm home.
Doing a just a few things can help:
- Drop in on an older neighbour or friend once a week – more often if the weather turns very cold
- Make sure living rooms are heated to around 210C and bedrooms to 180C if possible
- If they are using portable heaters, make sure these are safe
- Ensure the person you are looking in on is eating well and has tinned meals and soups in the cupboard. Offer to get their shopping if necessary
- Ask if you can collect any prescriptions or take the person to any medical appointments – it is important they attend
- If it snows, clear their path or door for them
“Those who are home alone or feel isolated and have no-one to turn to don’t have to struggle with loneliness. There are a number of services available and I’d urge them to make contact.”
- The Silver Line – this is a free, confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Calls are free on: 0800 470 8090 or email: thesilverline.org.uk
- Age UK – they offer advice on anything from health to housing. Calls are free on on0800 678 1174. It’s open 365 days a year from 8am to 7pm
- Lancashire Wellbeing and Mental Health Helpline – The helpline, set up for the residents of Lancashire, can listen, as well as give information and emotional support for those concerned about their own mental health, or that of someone they know. It is available Monday to Friday from 7pm till 11pm and 12noon to 12 midnight Saturday and Sunday on Freephone 0800 915 464