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Help take the loneliness out of the holidays

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December 24, 2015 - 6:00 AM

VICTORIA - While Macaulay Culkin's character Kevin McCallister had a blast when he was home alone over the holidays, it's not all fun and games for everyone.

The holidays can be a time of family and community, but for some people, especially seniors, the holidays can be a lonely time.

If your social calendar is buzzing with activity at this time of year, try these simple things to help others who may suffer from social isolation:

* Invite someone that you know might not have family nearby to your dinner table or holiday festivities. The more the merrier, right?

* If you can, facilitate transportation. Sometimes accessibility is the biggest barrier to joining activities.

* Take time to visit family members who are living alone or in care facilities.

* While you are there, maybe pack along an extra flower or gift you can give to another resident you think could use some company. If you have time, sit with them too.

* If you cannot go visit family members or friends who may be feeling alone, call them or video chat with them.

* Promote a sense of purpose. Encourage hobbies and integrate seniors into activities like reading to youth or knitting scarves for those in need. Ask them for help with your projects and set time aside to work on it together.

* Listen. If you hear someone say they are lonely, or if they look like they need some company, make a point of helping. You can connect with them yourself - this could be as simple as dropping off a card to them unexpectedly the next time you are around - or let their friends or caretakers know so they can include this person in activities or offer suggestions on groups they can join.

If you feeling lonely this season, there are ways you can connect too; you are not alone:

* Look for programs at your local community centre. They have activities for all ages and interests.

* Try volunteering for a charity. You will meet other volunteers who are also there to make a difference, and the people you help will be thankful for your help.

* Check for social groups that meet up near your neighbourhood. These could be book clubs, craft clubs, or other groups that just like to get together.

* Invite people to spend time with you, or ask to tag along with a friend. So many people are wrapped up in their schedules that they don't always realize what others are experiencing. Let someone know you want to spend time with them.

* There are plenty of online groups and communities; check them out and see if there are any that interest you. Do make sure to be safe on those sites and never give out important personal information.

This season, let's all try to take a moment to connect and make sure  everyone in our community has someone to share the holidays with.

For more information on resources and programs to avoid social isolation, visit:

* Social Connections: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/seniors/health-safety/active-aging/social-connections
* Better at Home (program includes friendly visiting service):  www.betterathome.ca
* Volunteering (a good way to stay socially connected): https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content family-social-supports/seniors/health-safety/active-aging/volunteering

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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