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Reach out to older people this Christmas

Reach out to older people this Christmas

“Christmas can be a tough time for some older people” says Ann Martin of Age Concern New Zealand, “especially those who live alone”.

The latest census figures show that there are now over 630,000 people aged 65 and over in New Zealand, and the number of people aged over 85 has increased by nearly 30% since 2006.

“Whilst the majority of older people are connected to family and friends, research shows that around 8% are severely lonely,” says Ms Martin, “and for people in this situation, Christmas can make the pain of loneliness and isolation even worse.”

Risk factors for loneliness include being widowed, living alone, living on a low income, losing the ability to drive, poor health and mobility, sensory impairments, and advanced age.

“We urge people to look out for older family members or neighbours who may be vulnerable” says Ms Martin. “Sometimes we get caught up in the Christmas rush, and don’t take time to think about people who may be experiencing a much quieter holiday season.”

“An invitation to share a meal, a hand-made card from a child, or a phone call to an older relative on Christmas day can make a huge difference, and the benefits go both ways,” adds Ms Martin. “Contact with older people can help families to connect with what Christmas is really about, and it’s a great time to explore memories and think about traditions.”

“Age Concern provides information, services, and volunteering opportunities to help older people stay connected to their communities,” says Ms Martin. “If you are an older person and feel you need more company, or if you know an older person who might need more support, do contact your local Age Concern. You can find the contact details on our Age Concern New Zealand website or in your local phone book.”


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