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Age Scotland's end of year message

Published on 30 December 2021 12:06 PM

From Chief Executive Brian Sloan.

As we approach the end of what has been another difficult year for Scotland’s older people, it’s important to take some time to reflect.

Although I’m sure we’re all looking forward to a welcome break, with ongoing concerns over the new Covid-19 variant and caution advised around meeting in extended groups, this Christmas and New Year period will still be far from normal. 105,000 older people in Scotland expect to feel lonely over this time, while 74,000 say they have no one to spend the holiday with.

The thought of having celebrations limited or reduced or even being unable to celebrate in person with friends and family once again is incredibly difficult and of course it’s important to weigh up the risks of your own individual circumstances and be respectful of boundaries.

If you’re visiting friends or family or receiving visitors yourself, having a clear plan and discussing any measures you’ll follow beforehand might help ease any worries, such as taking a lateral flow test beforehand and taking up the offer of vaccinations.

If being together in person isn’t an option, there are still ways to stay connected over the festive period. A video call, phone call, card, or doorstep chat where possible can make a huge difference.

Although they are an important and necessary measure to slow the spread, the new restrictions in place from the 27th December will undoubtedly have a further impact on loneliness levels. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we all reach out to older people in our communities over this extended festive period.

We’d encourage people to check on older neighbours and perhaps even see if they need a helping hand or company. Small gestures, like a check in phone call, stopping to chat on the doorstep, or clearing paths of snow or ice if need be, can provide much-needed comfort and aid.

We can all play our part to make sure no one feels they are going through this difficult time alone.

The Age Scotland Friendship Line will also be open over the festive period for the first time this year, offering a friendly voice at the end of the phone for anyone who is on their own. We’d urge any older person struggling with feelings of loneliness and isolation to give us a call on 0800 12 44 222.

Despite the ongoing restrictions, we have been heartened by the efforts of our groups and volunteers across the country to spread some Christmas cheer throughout December. Whether it’s delivering cards and gifts, or organising a festive lunch or outing where possible, they have been working tirelessly to make sure no one feels forgotten about.

Whatever the new year has in store, our team are determined to be there for older people who need us now and in the weeks and months to come – providing information, advice, support, or just a friendly voice at the end of the phone.

I’m incredibly proud of how we have continued to adapt and uphold our vital services despite the ongoing and increasing challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

I’d like to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone who has played a part in our work to support older people across Scotland this year – from member and community groups, to dedicated Age Scotland staff and volunteers, and all those who have taken on fundraising challenges or made donations. Your kindness helps us be there for older people when they need us most and our work simply wouldn’t be possible without you.

The extraordinary efforts and commitment of unpaid carers, social care and the NHS once again this year must be recognised. It is unimaginable to think what life would be like without them, and in the face of growing need and relentless pressures on the front line against this deadly virus they continue to be there for older people when needed most. Their work is heroic and our gratitude knows no bounds.

On behalf of everyone at Age Scotland, I’d like to wish you all a happy and peaceful festive period. I hope you’re able to celebrate safely with those closest to you – whatever form that celebration takes – and let’s look to the future with hope that brighter days are on the horizon in 2022.

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