Millions of older Australians will be alone this Christmas

The Minister for Aged Care launches a campaign to tackle loneliness.

Millions of older Australians will be alone this Christmas

Millions of older Australians will be alone this Christmas, especially those who live in aged care facilities. However, the Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt has launched a national campaign aimed at tackling loneliness this holiday season.

The inspiration behind this move came about after Mr Wyatt visited an aged care home where, year-round, none of the residents received visitors.

“This is a particularly distressing situation, despite the best efforts of the aged care staff,” said Mr Wyatt.

“I have previously raised concerns that up to 40 per cent of aged care residents receive no visitors but 100 per cent is completely unacceptable.

“So more than ever this Christmas, I am asking all Australians to reach out to people in residential aged care and relatives, friends, and community members everywhere in need of company.”

Mr Wyatt’s plea coincides with the Australian Red Cross’s Season of Belonging campaign and survey results that revealed the extent of loneliness.

“The survey indicated that up to a quarter of us are lonely some or almost all of the time,” said Mr Wyatt.

“This equates to up to 5.6 million people, with men over the age of 55 the most likely to feel the impact of loneliness, after divorces or separations.

“I believe Australia is a caring society but as our lives have become busier, we have left too many people behind.”

The Red Cross campaign is encouraging the community to reduce loneliness with five simple steps. These include meeting neighbours, volunteering, saying hello to someone new in your neighbourhood, checking in on someone you know is lonely or may be in trouble and being kind to people on social media.

“As the new Red Cross campaign recommends, volunteering is a particularly valuable way to help reduce community isolation,” Mr Wyatt said.

“I’m also proud the Turnbull Government provides practical support for senior Australians who may be experiencing loneliness, with $17.2 million for the Community Visitors Scheme this financial year.

“The role of a volunteer in this scheme is simply to be a friend to someone. Our need for love, company, compassion, family and friends does not diminish as we age.”

For more information and to find ways to tackle loneliness in your community, visit www.redcross.org.au, or to get involved in the Community Visitors Scheme, visit www.agedcare.health.gov.au

If you are suffering with loneliness and feeling isolated, get in touch with Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

Do you know someone who’ll be lonely this Christmas?

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    COMMENTS

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    Rosret
    11th Dec 2017
    10:41am
    People in aged care facilities will be entertained and have a lovely meal cooked for them. Its not family however it is not as ever so lonely as those in their own homes and family are far away. - Sometimes it isn't just the aged. A lot of people are working on Christmas day usually those in service to our country.
    I must say TV is a wonderful friend for those who need to spend Christmas home alone. So if the free-to-air networks are listening - something happy for everyone with a bit of quality.
    Rae
    11th Dec 2017
    12:44pm
    A lot of families just can't get together now if they are scattered. Many work in retail and hospitality and Boxing Day is such a feeding frenzy of extra shopping that they can't take a break away at Christmas.
    Charlie
    11th Dec 2017
    12:04pm
    Just send money and I will find friends.
    How about an age pensioners free air fare, return to anywhere in Australia, once a year.
    Puglet
    11th Dec 2017
    1:36pm
    Mr Wyatt thinks we will be ever so grateful for his miserly largesse that we will forget the real poverty that affects the lives of so many Australians. Of course Christmas lunch is very nice for those alone or too poor to make their own. I volunteer to help with lunches and know the pleasure they provide Mr Wyatt, It’s no good having turkey if you have to wait another 5 years for dentures. Similarly thousands are waiting for hearing aids or glasses and until they do they are cut off from the world and will probably be friendless. If we’d used the 100 million used for that survey to pay for dentures thousands of Aussies would be smiling brightly today. Until the elderly are treated as valuable, dignified citizens they will continue to be socially isolated. So, I am not grateful and this puff piece makes my blood boil. PS I can afford glasses and don’t need dentures because I can pay for good dental care but many can’t.
    Triss
    11th Dec 2017
    2:35pm
    You are so right, Puglet. None of our politicians seem to have the ability to direct funds to where it would be most useful. That’s probably because they are on a high salary and have never even thought that there are people living in pain because they can’t afford to see a dentist. That people might be lonely because they shun company because they can’t hear well enough to join in a conversation.
    Old Geezer
    11th Dec 2017
    2:07pm
    Interesting as I will enjoy my baked bean sandwich on Christmas Day instead of all that awful Christmas food. Son says he is baking me a huge turkey etc but I just take my can of baked beans and can opener instead.
    Kathleen
    11th Dec 2017
    5:01pm
    I suspect you are joking and your entertainment is seeing if you can get a rise out of people.
    Merry Christmas OG.

    11th Dec 2017
    3:46pm
    Incredible, Old Geezer, and no doubt you will resultantly make your contribution to global warming!

    11th Dec 2017
    3:57pm
    I'm 55, on a Disability Support Pension, and my family lives outside of Sydney (where I live). Whilst I don't live in any aged care facility, I suffer terribly from loneliness since I live alone. Due to my disabilities, I'm quite isolated and will be spending Christmas alone - sadly. I get some support from my local church where I'm a parishoner, but I do need a lot more human contact.

    The Red Cross are fantastic. They put compassion into action. While Ken Wyatt is making all the right noises, his political party are hardly known for their compassion; the ALP is.
    Kathleen
    11th Dec 2017
    5:07pm
    The internet is a wonderful way to help combat loneliness.
    Feel free to personal message me and I will respond.
    Merry Christmas Knows-a-lot.
    Anonymous
    11th Dec 2017
    6:42pm
    knows-a-lot, somebody will always attempt to put an article of love into a political issue, any wonder not many people are interested in your plight, who wants to hear political motivation at Christmas, why don't you hang a notice up outside your door stating liberals are not wanted here at Christmas!