Taking care of vulnerable friends and relatives
For vulnerable friends or family members, life can be challenging and these daily challenges can have a huge effect on their wellbeing. So if you can, spare a few minutes to check in on an elderly neighbour, friend or relative just to make sure they are ok.
Signs to look out for if someone might not be taking care of themselves could be (not just limited to Christmas time):
- Clothing not looking clean and fresh (or as clean and fresh as normal)
- Food in the fridge being out of date
- Fridge or cupboards being empty
- Not going out as much, or at all
- Curtains left closed all the time
- Washing up left piled up on the side
- General untidiness (more than normal)
- Not wanting to converse when you see them and isolating themselves from friends and family
- Being unusually negative and seeming to be a bit low
- Sleeping more and feeling tired – this could also be a sign of an underlying condition
- Eating differently – either losing their appetite or eating much more than usual
- Dramatic weight loss or weight gain
How to help someone who may be struggling
If you know someone who lives on their own and who doesn’t have many visitors, why not spare a few minutes to check in on them and offer a helping hand. A little bit of washing up, or popping a washing load on can often just be enough to help someone who is struggling.
However, it’s sometimes hard to approach this with a friend or relative, as often we second guess our own feelings because we don’t want to make the wrong assumptions and offend or upset them. But part of being a good friend or carer is just simply showing up and sitting with them for 10 mins to 2 hours. If you are comfortable, try opening the conversation by simply saying” You don’t seem like yourself lately so I just wanted to check in and have a catch up” Or “I just wanted to check in and let you know that I’m here for you”. It might take a few attempts to get them to open up, but you will definitely be doing something to help and they will be grateful for your support.
You also may feel that it is worthwhile having a conversation around having some care support to take the burden off, so we have an article specifically written to help start those conversations.
For further advice, visit the NHS website by clicking here.