If you've been following my blog for awhile now you'll know that loneliness has been a theme on my blog before, having felt very lonely myself since I gave birth to my son. I'm a firm believer that no one should feel lonely - one of the most horrible feelings in the world in my opinion - no matter what their age, so when Sunrise Senior Living asked if I'd be interested in contributing to their campaign to end loneliness amongst elderly people I was delighted to take part.
Ever since I was a child, charities that support and ways to help the elderly have always been close to my heart. I used to visit a local hospital after school and chat to the sick, elderly people in there and ask if they needed anything from the shop, etc. Since that young age I realised that no one should ever be left to feel alone or be forgotten, to me that is the saddest thing in the world. Sunrise Senior Living provide various types of care for the elderly, they also actively encourage community participation in their care homes across the UK - something which every decent person with some time on their hands should participate in really. A visit to a care home can take just half an hour of your time but could mean the absolute world to the residents there. Recent research from the Campaign To End Loneliness has revealed just how detrimental loneliness can be to a persons health and well being. In order to combat this they are looking for people's help to raise awareness and contribute to the campaign in any way that they can.
One older relative of mine has been through an awful lot in the past year and half, having had their world turned upside down quite unexpectedly. I have tried to not only be there for this person as a relative but also as a friend too. They expressed to me a few months back that they appreciated having someone to talk to because everyone needs someone to talk to and to be honest this broke my heart, no one should ever have to thank anyone for being there to listen to them.
Sunrise Senior Living provided me with a game of Scrabble, a pack of Bicycle cards (which Jacek was very happy about!) and £30 to spend on ingredients to make one of their recipes for dinner. I chose to make the Paprika and Red Onion Chicken as it sounded truly delicious and seemed relatively easy to make too but there was so many lovely recipes to choose from that I really was spoilt for choice, you can view their Recipes from the Heart here. I didn't make a dessert, even though they had so many yummy sounding ones, as the person I invited for dinner is a diabetic and I didn't want to tempt them!
The meal was absolutely delicious (most definitely because Jacek took over the reigns on this, I simply prepared the potatoes and veg). The chicken was perfect and I like that we got to try something else for dinner other than our usually plain chicken breasts or breaded chicken, it's nice to have a change. We also had mash and vegetables as these are a favourite meal accompiant of our guests. We'll definitely be having the Sunrise Senior Living paprika and red onion chicken again, it was one of the best meals I've had in ages!
After we were full to the brim we spent the night playing card games like 21, Old Maid and Snap, all of my childhood favourites. We also played Scrabble for the first time ever - yes really (where have we been hiding all this time?!) and considering that our guest only learnt to read and write properly a few years ago they did pretty good! We all had such a great time and it was fantastic to see our guest smiling, having a laugh and feeling included. I think we'll have to make this a regular thing as our guest usually eats dinner alone and that's no fun at all.
It just goes to show that something as small as inviting someone to dinner can really help to change their mood and make them feel involved with family and friends again. I shared the fact that I was hosting this night as part of the campaign to end loneliness on my Instagram last night and the response was great. People even stated that they'd love to do something like this themselves and if they do I'd be so happy. I'd like to sincerely thank Sunrise Senior Living for asking me to be part of this campaign and for reminding me to include my older relatives, friends and neighbours in things a lot more from now on. Lets face it, we all need some laughs and company to keep us happy, healthy and feeling included.
Would you host a dinner or other activity with your elderly relatives or friends? Or would you visit nursing homes, hospitals or neighbours to help in the campaign to end loneliness?