Christmas really is the time for happiness, togetherness, joy and relaxation with those we love. During the festive break, lots of us will be spending time with family and friends to show them just how much they mean to us and how loved they are.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a family, or even close friends, and there are some people, especially elderly and vulnerable people, who will be all alone this Christmas. Indeed, according to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone and more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
People can become socially isolated for a variety of reasons, such as getting older or weaker, no longer being the hub of their family, leaving the workplace and following the deaths of spouses and friends. Dementia, and being diagnosed with it, can also cause isolation even among those who have lots of family and friends. Often, it’s the unspoken disease or condition that we don’t talk about.
At Christmas, those living with dementia can really struggle – not just with the extra special occasion – the busyness, the noise, the grand festivities but also by feeling side-lined and no longer feeling like they had the role they once had. Whether that was to cut the Turkey, peel the veg, or hand out the presents to the grandchildren, living with dementia might have changed that with family members thinking they’re lightening the load by taking these responsibilities away from them when in fact they’re making dementia sufferers feel more isolated.
While we are enjoying the conversation and company of our loved ones this festive break, it’s important to take some time out and think about those family members struggling with conditions like dementia as well as elderly people who live near you, perhaps next door or just down the street, and ask yourself if they’re ok, and if they are socialising with anyone this Christmas. It’s worth a quick knock at the door, to see how they’re doing and perhaps invite them to join you for a Christmas cuppa and mince pie. Or even spending 10 minutes in their living room is enough to make someone’s Christmas.
At both Cramlington House and West Farm we are making sure our residents are involved with the festivities as much as they can and want to be. For example, we have family and friends coming into the homes on Christmas Day to share Christmas dinner with their loved one living at Cramlington House or West Farm. We also have residents spending a few hours on Christmas Day with their family outside the homes. On the same token, we are also respectful of those residents who genuinely want a quieter Christmas and perhaps just need an hour’s company from a relative.
If you know anyone who is elderly and vulnerable this festive season, and is likely to be alone, please bear in mind how much a ‘hello and a hug’ would mean to them. Some people just aren’t as fortunate as others in having lots of people around them, involved in their everyday lives, and are increasingly isolated at this time of year. So please make their Christmas this year and check in on them to see that they’re ok.
Finally, here’s a short video that’s beautifully done to show how Christmas feels to those living with dementia. It’s definitely worth a watch: http://ow.ly/eJiR50jVpRR
"I am very pleased with how my mother has settled in and generally how supportive and caring the staff are. This has given us peace of mind knowing that she is safe & well looked after. Thank you."
"Our mum has been a resident at Cramlington House for over a year and we have nothing but praise for the friendly, approachable staff and management. We always feel like part of an extended family and when we visit nothing is too much bother. We are completely happy with the standard of care, support and understanding we all receive as a family."
"From the first day, I knew it was the place for my mum. Clean, friendly staff, lovely environment! My mum would not get the opportunity to do the activities she is experiencing if she was not in Cramlington House. It is home from home and we can visit anytime. I can't say enough of how great Cramlington House is. "
"This is an absolutely superb care facility. The staff say that this is the home of the residents, in which they work - and they evidence that philosophy every day. In the last months of our mother's long life, we took comfort form the fact that she was safe and secure, being well-fed and looked after. The entire care team are brilliant. "
"All the staff at West Farm have provided such wonderful care, compassion and support to my auntie. We both feel incredibly lucky to have found West Farm, it’s been the perfect home for my auntie. I can honestly say, hand on heart, every aspect of the care provided by each member of staff at West Farm has been outstanding."