‘Home Alone’: Post-Pandemic Loneliness At Christmas, With An 83-Year-Old

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson sticks to UK Christmas rules by instilling a “high degree of personal responsibility” upon his people, the upcoming festive period does not seem as jolly as usual.

Home Alone, a Christmas classic, so ludicrously detached from reality, who are we but to laugh all over ourselves at the thought of being sat at home, all too alone?

After a UK grandmother became the first to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine jab on Wednesday 9th December, a wisp of hope entered the houses of grandmothers, grandfathers, elderly friends and neighbours, whispering of the end to 2020’s isolation.

Ironically, it is those we have been striving to protect the most, who seem to be suffering more than anybody else this Christmastime.

The British Red Cross recently released statistics stating a, “sharp rise in the number of people who are too lonely to cope with the Covid-19 crisis,” with, “35% of UK adults concerned their loneliness will become significantly worse.”

“You can be too old for a lot of things, but you’re never too old to be afraid,” – Marley, Home Alone (1990).

What might a grandparent suffering from loneliness look like?:

● They feel unseen, and unheard
● Social isolation may have lead to a lack in meaningful relationships – read more about the difference between social isolation and loneliness, here.
● It has been some time since they have had any meaningful conversation with someone
● They have little people around to speak too/spend time with

On March 23rd, 83-year-old Doreen Shaw sat in her usual spot on the sofa, tapping for her tea to go tepid before sipping it. It was her last tea-bag, you know, got to make the most of that last one. Pursing her lips to blow against the steam, with one fragile fingertip she turned the volume to high, watching alongside the nation, to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home.

And the first thing she thought was – ‘How I am going to get out for my tea-bags?’

Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

Marmalade Trust, a charity dedicated to supporting those loneliest in society, reported that, “This year has been particularly difficult…It has exposed more people than we could have imagined to the experience and concept of loneliness.”

“I didn’t leave the house for four months,” Doreen told Tell Me About It. “That’s hard work.”

Tipping Point at 4pm. The Chase at 5pm. Then it goes the news, to Emmerdale, to Corrie, and the day starts again for Good Morning Britain starting at 6am. And it stays like that, the same times, the same day, over and over again.

Doreen sat, in her usual spot, in some sick kind of Groundhog Day – one where the air outside was toxic and the people were diseases. The once inundation of visitors she had once experienced daily had stopped, and just like we all know too well, Coronavirus does not say a jolly goodbye just for Christmas.

Mrs Doreen Shaw, in a pre-Covid Christmas

“I live in a street, and we’re all elderly people here. We have benches outside our houses, where people pass us coming home from the shops. Since the shops have opened up for Christmas, we have them passing, to wave and chat too, that helps a lot.”

“I read my magazines, I watch the television. What else is there for me to do when no one is allowed round?” Mrs Shaw added. “I can’t get out for my food and it gets difficult just being stuck – all I can do is rely on people.”

“And now, at Christmastime, we elderly people must be careful. After this year, and the risks, I think now I’d prefer just to be left alone. I don’t want to think about it, because it’s so hard to believe it’s happening. Something has just gone so wrong.”

“There’s nothing around here for us to do. I can’t go out the house by myself, because I kept falling down, but now I can’t even go out with a friend or a relative even if I wanted too.”

“You’d feel pretty sad if you woke up tomorrow and you didn’t have a family,” – Kate McCallister, Home Alone (1990).

How might you help a grandparent suffering from loneliness this Christmas time?:

● Hold holiday Zoom calls
● Send homemade gifts to older family members, like Christmas cakes, or Yuletide biscuits – anything to brighten their day
● Invite an elderly family member out for a socially distanced walk
● Register an act of kindness on charity page Re-Engage
● Volunteer as a ‘Telephone Befriender,’ here

“The worst thing that could happen is if we go into another lockdown,” Mrs. Shaw added. “So we must rely that the young people are abiding by the rules, for the sake of all of us.”

If you are feeling lonely this Christmas time, please find help below:

Call Samaritans – 116 123

Call Silverline – 0800 4 70 80 90

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