‘Tis the season to look out for relatives

Christmas is often a time for family. Gathered around the open fire, forcing the teenage grandchildren to play charades and trying to stop your own children, their parents, from drinking all the wine and falling out over who was more hard done by as a child. Or at least that’s what my parents tell me!

Research suggests that most of us see our older relatives during the festive season, and this is the cause of a great deal of happiness.

The research from Key found that 78% of over-55s sees older relatives at this time of year.

More than half say this important family time makes them happy.

But it’s not just spending quality time with the family that drives happiness at Christmas.

The research also found that nearly half of under-55s are worried about older family members, after spending some time together at Christmas.

Almost two-thirds of under-55s decided to be more supportive of their older relatives as a result of these concerns.

Providing support to older relatives, if you’re worried about them, can be as simple as visiting more often and keeping a closer eye.

More practical ways to assist include discussing financial support with elderly relatives, arranging for family or neighbours to be around more, or even asking relatives to move in with them.

All of this means that Christmas can act as a prompt to offer more support to older relatives.

Nearly two in five under-55s say it’s spending more time with elderly relatives during Christmas which prompts them to take action in providing support.

But many of us find it challenging to find the time to devote to older relatives, either at Christmas or throughout the year.

Nearly one in five told the survey they became concerned about how physically well and active older relatives are, following these Christmas visits.

6% raised concerns about how well elderly relatives are coping financially.

Will Hale, CEO of Key, said:

“With many families living further and further apart, Christmas is a time to spend quality time together. However, while this is incredibly positive for all generations, it can mean that you are more likely to notice if older relatives need additional support around the house or to cope with their everyday lives – especially if you haven’t seen them for a while.

“If this is something that you have noticed, you are certainly not alone and following time spent together at Christmas almost two-thirds of under-55s have decided to be more supportive of their older relatives. 

“This might mean anything from deciding to spend more time with them to discussing their finances in greater depth to see how their lives could be made that little bit easier.  

“Every family is different and these are not always easy conversations to have but just raising the topic can be an important first step in helping some older people understand that they perhaps have more options available to them than they may think.”