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‘The gift of time’: Seniors, especially men, at risk of holiday loneliness

Seniors' homes and similar facilities are often home to many lonely people, most of whom would welcome a conversation or a card game.
Seniors' homes and similar facilities are often home to many lonely people, most of whom would welcome a conversation or a card game. Pixabay

The holiday season is known as a time to get together with family and friends, but what about people who don’t have either?

The Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba says there are simple ways to reach out and make a lonely person’s holiday a little brighter.

“I think the older that we are, the more likely it is that we’re going to be alone,” said the organization’s executive director, Jan Legeros.

“As we live longer, [we] outlive our friends.”

Legeros told 680 CJOB that many of the people needing company tend to be men, as they deal with a situation like the loss of a spouse in a different way than women.

“Not to generalize too much, but often the woman in the relationship is the social coordinator, so I think overall, if we did a study, women would do better than men in terms of being able to reach out and find someone to fill the need,” she said.

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“It’s often the case that men need to be encouraged to reach out and make new connections. They tend to isolate themselves and cling to their family, who are often working full-time and very, very busy.”

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Regardless of gender, though, Legeros said it’s important to keep your eyes open for anyone in your community who may be alone and suffering in silence.

“I think it’s really important to us to be proactive and to look around us and to see if there’s a neigbour or a friend of a friend who is alone and needs someone to reach out to them,” Legeros said, “to tell them about some of the resources that are available to them and to just spend a few minutes of quality time.”

Seniors’ homes and similar facilities, she said, are often home to many lonely people, most of whom would welcome a conversation or a card game, but volunteers need to call ahead before dropping by unannounced, and in some cases follow a process to become a regular volunteer.

“It’s sort of a sign of our times, in many cases,” she said. “We’re all living longer, so we’re outliving many of the people that we love and who we’ve been close to.

“I think if we look around us, even in our own neighbourhood, even on our own street, we probably could take notice of someone who appears to be alone and who maybe would like us to come over there.

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“If we’re just a bit more cognizant of our surroundings, we’ll probably see that there are people out there who could use the gift of time.”

Resources for seniors and others who may be alone at this time of year are available at roadtocare.ca

Winnipeg seniors home without power for 3 days
Winnipeg seniors home without power for 3 days