Loneliness affects all ages, but especially older Americans — 25 percent to 60 percent experience loneliness.
The Samaritans, a charity in the United Kingdom that provides support to those in emotional distress, sees a large spike in calls from people suffering the effects of loneliness and depression during the festive season. A volunteer from the Wolverhampton, UK, branch of the charity told her local paper: “We get 2,000 calls every month. Over the Christmas and New Year period, we see an increase in calls by about 20 percent.”
“It’s a bit of everything, really. Calls are mainly about isolation and loneliness. It tends to be older people who call about that, but it can be any age. They can call just to hear a voice on the other end of the phone. They just want to hear a human voice. It’s not unusual for someone to stay on the phone for an hour.”
As people retreat to their loved ones and offices and businesses close for the holiday period, those without immediate family and close friends can struggle to cope alone.
If you are struggling this Christmas…
- Share your problem with someone, even if this means phoning up a volunteer at a helpline. Just making that point of contact can help you feel far less isolated. Volunteers are trained to help those feeling the lowest they have ever felt in their life, so there is nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. They are happy to help you.
- If Christmas is an anniversary of something upsetting (such as divorce or loss of a loved one), try and use the occasion to remember your loved ones, or use it as a reason to create new memories to help you move on from bad periods in your life
- If you are worried about money, try and focus on being around loved ones rather than spending large sums of cash on presents. Material items don’t last, but memories will.
- Look out for elderly neighbors and friends who you know don’t have a large family. Drop by on Christmas day with a card, just to say hello, or give them a call. You might just make their day.
This post was written by Fiona Day. For more, check out our sister site Closer.