When Sunrise Senior Living got in touch a few weeks ago and asked if I'd like to get involved in their mission to raise awareness about loneliness in old age I immediately said yes. The Campaign To End Loneliness has done research on how detrimental loneliness can be to your health, especially in old age, and I personally believe it's so important to try and help in any way you can to end loneliness. Whether it's giving your grandparent's a phone call, popping in to see your elderly neighbours or even saying hello to the old lady sitting next to you on the bus.
Sunrise asked me to host a meal for some elderly people and they kindly sent me a meal kit and a list of some great recipes. My grandparents have recently moved to live close to me so I'm getting to see them a lot more than I used to, so when I was back home for a few days I invited them to lunch along with my next door neighbours. Luckily my mum was around to give me a hand with the cooking and organising, and as she's a pro at hosting a dinner party everything went pretty smoothly.
After flicking through the recipes provided by Sunrise Senior Living I decided on Smoked Paprika & Red Onion Chicken with mini roast potatoes, roasted vine tomatoes and broccoli, which I thought sounded great and would appeal to everyone. What I loved about these recipes was they listed all the nutritional information, although I didn't really want to see the amount of calories in the Baileys Cheesecake I made for dessert! Although we had a slight cheescake disaster when it all started pouring out the side of the tin half way through baking, we managed to salvage it, and it was nothing a dusting of icing sugar couldn't hide!
My grandparents and my neighbours all seemed to enjoy the food, but mostly it was the conversation they enjoyed the most! We talked about everything from my Grandad's life long love of motorbikes, to stories of WW2, to what they've been watching on telly recently. I've always loved being part of conversations with my grandparents and other elderly people, they have so many stories of a time thats so different to now. Also, just because they're old, doesn't mean they can't have a good time! I've always enjoyed spending time with my grandparents, but I feel like people can sometimes feel a bit unsure around elderly people, but they're no different to you, just with a few extra years life experience!
Everyone seemed to really enjoy the afternoon and they talked non stop. Although my grandparents and neighbours still have reasonably active social lives and are lucky to have friends and family who visit them, there are so many elderly people who aren't so lucky. Maybe their partner has passed away, or they don't live close to any family, they may go days without seeing or speaking to anyone. It takes a few minutes to make a phone call, or to pop in to a neighbour, even making the effort to start up a conversation in a coffee shop may make someones day. There are also ways to volunteer your time and end loneliness, but the most important thing is just to remember it takes something so small to make someone feel a bit less lonely.
Maybe this week try and do one small thing to help someone vulnerable to loneliness feel a little bit less alone. You could even host your own meal, even if it's for your family you might be surprised at what you'll find out about your grandparents, they have so many stories!
* Sunrise Senior Care provided me with a meal kit to help with hosting this meal that contained a voucher to cover the cost of the food. However all thoughts and opinions are my own and I think this is a really great campaign to get involved in.