This blog post was contributed by Angela Kitching, Joint Head of External Affairs at Age UK.
Christmas time, a time for families to reconnect, to eat together, to chat and to think about the challenges the New Year might bring. I don’t know about you, but in my family that means talking about about some of the conundrums faced by our family and friends. This year they included care arrangements and funding, loneliness, bereavement and ill health. I don’t want you to think we were miserable, we weren’t, there were great parties, lots of food and excited 5 year olds amazed by Father Christmas; but, at Christmas we did also check in with each other about the difficulties our family and friends face. We found the quizzes in the newspapers considerably easier to solve than these tricky family conundrums.
I thought for a while we had these chats because my family know I work at Age UK, but calls to Age UK’s Information and Advice line (tel. 0800 169 6565) certainly do pour in when families get together. After Christmas, I put together some information for my own family from the information and advice pages on Age UK’s website; the advice is free, accurate and helps people have a really good think about their options – do have a look around.
I also wanted to point a family friend towards our Call in Time service, a free weekly friendship call that I thought might make all the difference now they are finding it that bit more difficult to get out and about.
I don’t want to pretend that I skipped around like a helpful and irritating advice fairy. I know that real life difficulties can’t be solved solely by a fact sheet. But for my family, and for many millions more around the country, knowing how to move on from the conversation that starts, ‘I am a bit worried about Uncle Jim…’ towards a more practical solution is an important step forwards. Good information and a bit of support can make that happen.
I hope you had a good break, enjoyed the family time and if it threw up some questions for your family, then think about talking to Age UK.