ADVOCATE of older people in Cork Paddy O’Brien has called on people to check in on the elderly in their community this Christmas.
Mr O’Brien warned that Christmas is a particularly lonely time for many elderly people, particularly those living alone, and called on people to make an extra effort to care for them over the festive period.
“Christmas for most people is a time of great joy and happiness but regrettably for many elderly, it’s a sad and lonely time of the year.
“I have spoken to some elderly people over the last few weeks and their comments are absolutely heartbreaking.
“For some of these people, it can be the loneliest time of the year, especially for those who are living alone. Loneliness now is the greatest single problem facing the lives of elderly people living in our community,” he said.
“Loneliness today is much worse than it was back in the ’70s and ’80s and we all have a very important role to play in trying to bring some sunshine into the lives of those sad, lonely and depressed people.”
Mr O’Brien said the lives of older people have changed dramatically over the past 21 months with many suffering as a result of the restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
“For a long period, they were not able to move outside their own homes. They were confined like prisoners indoors, unable to have visitors including members of their own families. They couldn’t attend mass and many of them are currently experiencing mental health issues as a direct result of this confinement and other restrictions,” he said.
Mr O’Brien reminded people how important attending Mass is to some elderly people and suggested that people make arrangements with the elderly in their community to drive them to Mass on Christmas Day, as it is “a deep disappointment and sadness” when they are unable to attend.
He said every family should check in on older neighbours by knocking on the door or making a phonecall and ensuring they have adequate food and heating so they do not go the whole Christmas without talking to someone.
“If we all make an extra effort this year to try and communicate with the lonely and sad people in our area it would make a happier Christmas for more people,” he said.