GUEST COLUMN: Help elderly at Christmas, by Coun Muriel Weisz

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Christmas is very much a family time for all and is a great opportunity for relatives to get together, share a mince pie and a have good old catch up.

However, we all need to spare a thought for older people who may not have any relatives or nearby family members to share this special time of year. It is estimated that one in three older people find it difficult to get where they want to go, particularly during the winter period, so rely on people visiting them. I read a thought provoking article in the national press recently which suggested the average pensioner lives 77 minutes from their nearest close relative.

For this reason we all need to be good neighbours and look out for older people who are socially isolated.

There are many luncheon clubs across the county that help bring together older people on a regular basis, which is a fantastic way of reducing social isolation.

Likewise, our day services across the county are a great meeting place for older people to make friends and carry out a range of stimulating activities. A number of charities and independent providers also offer activities and befriending services aimed at giving vulnerable older people social contact. However, we can also make a conscious effort to check on older people in our community who may be isolated or alone for long periods. You could invite them over for a mulled wine or pop round with a gift or festive treat to break up their week. Also look for unusual signs such as their curtains being drawn in the day or no lights on at night and raise the alarm if you are concerned that they may not be safe and well.

All these little things that can make a huge difference in our community this Christmas.