Xmas: The other side of the story

Christmas is not a merry time of year for all. This season, individuals are being asked to share their Christmas spirit with socially isolated older adults.

In the midst of Christmas joy and celebration, Australians should take a moment to acknowledge the value of older people, and extend the hand of friendship and kindness to the socially isolated.

Not-for-profit provider, Villa Maria, has asked individuals across the country to tap into the true spirit of Christmas by paying particular attention to older people living on their own in the community, the older members of their family and those adults living in residential aged care.  

General manager of community services, Jeremy McAuliffe, stressed that although Christmas brings with it a feeling of happiness, for many older people the holiday will heighten feelings of loneliness and isolation.

“Older members of the community are no different to any one else in the community,” said Mr McAuliffe.

“There are some for whom the season represents an opportunity to do those traditional things and to share in the significance of what Christmas actually is.

“…But there are other people for whom that is not always the case, particularly for those who are alone and don’t have family, or live an isolated life.”

Villa Maria, just like many other organisations around Australia, will therefore hold special Christmas events in their facilities and respite care centres, provide Christmas hampers to older people living on their own and do all that they can to “bring the Christmas spirit to those who can not find it”.

“Look for ways of sharing the spirit of the season with others. If you are walking the dog down the street and there is an older person living alone, stop and take the time to say Merry Christmas.

“Or take a plate of something to the person down the street…And take time to reflect on how great our lives are.”

National Seniors Australia has also issued a special Christmas message, asking people to take a look at how they treat the elderly.

Chief executive, Michael O’Neill, encouraged individuals to realise that one small act of kindness could make a great difference in an older person’s life.

“When you do have interaction with an older person, they are normally so appreciative that you’ve taken a couple of minutes of your time and it can really make their day,” said Mr O’Neill.

“It’s something we should be doing do all year round, not just at Christmas time.”

Mr O’Neill said the spate of deaths of elderly people who have died alone without anyone knowing for days or weeks on end should be a wake-up call to everyone.

“When this happens, the circumstances are very sad, so even if we can check on our neighbours once every few days, it’s going a long way,’’ he said.

“We also know older people are more at risk of getting sun stroke in this summer heat so that’s another reason why we should make a visit to our neighbours.

“We are all ageing and in the future we hope someone would make that little bit of an effort for us as well.”

Tags: aged-care, christmas, community-care, national-seniors-australia, villa-maria,

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