Caroline McKenna, Manager of Priors Mead Retirement Care in Reigate, tells you how you can help your elderly neighbours this winter
During the winter months the elderly can become isolated and lonely due to bad weather and shorter days. A fear of leaving the house, a risk of injury whilst doing daily tasks and lack of social contact leaves them trapped in their own homes. So we want to encourage YOU, throughout this winter, to reach out and be a good neighbour.
Whilst the winter weather does not seem a problem (apart from its unpleasantness) for most of us, icy and wet conditions can be frightening for fragile elderly people. As we age the cells within the part of our ears responsible for balance die off and we become less steady on our feet. Every day trips to the shops, posting letters or putting the rubbish out all become much more of a challenge. Age UK has estimated that a staggering 3.5 million elderly people in the UK are not getting any help or support from their neighbours. This is something which we hope to change by supporting those in our community who may need assistance.
According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, there are 800,000 people in England who are chronically lonely. Loneliness is a real issue for many elderly people living on their own, and it’s estimated that 5 million people say television is their main form of company; that's 10 per cent of the population.
If someone has had an accident or has come to some harm, especially during the cold and stormy weather, they may not have anyone around to see if they are ok. By getting to know your neighbours a little better and calling in on a regular basis, you can potentially avert a life threatening situation.
So how as a neighbour can you help the elderly in your community this winter?
- Introduce yourself: Say hello, give them a smile and let them know that you’re next door or across the road if they need any help or wish to contact you.
- Lend a hand: If you notice they are struggling with shopping or putting the bins out.
- Save them a trip: If you are off shopping offer to pick up essentials such as milk or bread.
- Check that all is ok: Particularly after extremely cold or bad weather pop round and ask if they need help with sorting out any damage and check that they have some heat.
- Keep an eye out: Be vigilant and look out for signs such as:
- Not seeing them in a while
- Milk being left outside
- Newspapers stuck in the letterbox for a few days
- Bins being left out when they are normally put away
- No lights being on when it is dark
- Curtains not being opened for a few days
- Their dog is barking all day or the cat is scratching to be let in
By being a little more aware of our neighbours and lending a hand to those who may be in need you can make the tough winters more bearable. It is these small acts of kindness which we urge you to undertake to be a good neighbour.
Caroline McKenna is the Manager of Priors Mead Retirement Care in Reigate, specialists in caring for the elderly for over 20 years. Telephone 01737 224334, www.priorsmead.com