Millions 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?

Related articles:
Lonely but not alone
Loneliness a bigger killer than obesity
No need to be lonely

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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