Look out for lonely neighbours in 2019
Having just enjoyed Christmas and the New Year, you may now be feeling somewhat overwhelmed but happy, having enjoyed plenty of fun with your family.
If you are fortunate to have an extended family and a good network of friends, the last few weeks may have been particularly busy, with lots of social events, a busy Christmas Day, Boxing Day and maybe an eventful New Years Eve to follow.
All by myself?
However, while you might have enjoyed spending time with your children and grandchildren and many others, there will be other retired people who will have spent Christmas all alone.
Of course, there are those who prefer their own company or who simply dislike Christmas, and would therefore prefer it that way. But for others, it will have been a lonely time, often one that brings despair due to being widowed, or single through never marrying or divorcing. Some may have no living family, or for those that do, they may live far away, perhaps overseas.
With Christmas Day having come and gone, some neighbours of yours may be among those who have been alone in the festive season. It is too late to change that, but could the new year be a great opportunity to help them?
If you discover that you have a lonely neighbour, now might be a great time to make a new resolution to get to know them. They may be absolutely delighted to find that someone is taking an interest in them and that they are not being ignored, and there may be great mutual benefits arising in the friendships that are possible in such circumstances.
Just the simple act of going round to visit them may be a great start. Often, people who are lonely in old age are in that situation not just because they live on their own, but through a lack of physical mobility. For that reason, they will be delighted if someone goes round to see them frequently.
The next thing you could do is to is introduce them to a wider social circle. Many older people belong to clubs, societies, churches, or even senior sports teams. This means that there is a wider social network there for them. But for people who are isolated, some of these may be hard to access.
Alternatively, there is always the possibility that some people simply suffer from a bit of shyness and may not want to simply turn up and join something where they don't know anybody. Also, it might be there are social opportunities that could interest them that they might not even know about.
By befriending them, you could help lonely older people to get involved in more events by acting as a bridge. If they know you are involved, you could help them to join in and soon become part of the group.
The benefits of this may go further than you think. For example, an older person who lives alone due to being widowed may find friendship through a revived social life, but never rule out the chance that there might be some romance as well!
Get out and about
If you are a lot more mobile than your lonely neighbour, another great way to help them get out and about might be to hop in the car and go for some outings. This might be particularly good fun when the warmer weather comes along, and even if going for walks somewhere green and pleasant is too much, a nice outing to a cafe, or somewhere to sit with a great view could be a great way to spend a day.
Of course, it might sound like you are taking a lot on by helping a lonely neighbour, but if you have a wide circle of friends you could get them involved. What better way to ensure they rapidly expand their social circle?
Finally, by befriending a lonely old person near you, next Christmas might look very different. The chances are they may end up spending 25th December 2019 with you, or another of your friends.
There will have been too many lonely people this Christmas, and they won't have all been elderly either. But you could make a big difference to this in 2019. It could be one of the most rewarding - and enduring - new year resolutions you will make.