Elders suffer from bouts of loneliness and longing during auspicious periods such as Christmas

How you can help the elderly...

A moment captured during a previous festive treat for elders at Elim Residential Home in Phoenix.

Published Dec 21, 2023


While some elders are fortunate enough to spend this festive season with their families, many others are separated from their loved ones due to various circumstances.

Femada Shamam, CEO of The Association for The Aged (Tafta), said in some cases their elders had limited contact with family living abroad or in other provinces.

“These instances can often lead to bouts of loneliness and longing during auspicious periods. In this regard, we host a number of combined functions and events for residents to get together and celebrate with their friends and neighbours.

“Our annual Christmas lunches are joy-filled celebrations, and one of these most coveted occasions, so much so that even elders who visit with their families during this time choose to attend the lunches instead. These events foster a sense of belonging, community and support for our elders who are encouraged to socialise. We have been blessed through the kindness of our donors.”

Tafta is home to more than 1 500 residents across their 13 facilities. On average, 70% or their residents remain at the homes during the festive period with only 30% going to their families.

Shamam said they were grateful for the support they got from volunteers and donors.

“Tafta is often approached by secondary and tertiary students for opportunities to volunteer and provide community service. Our support from corporates has also begun to increase post Covid-19, with many businesses and companies choosing to support events held at our homes or to come through and host activities for our elders as part of their CSI, team-building and Mandela Day projects.

“Our core focus presently is on hosting 17 Christmas lunches across our various facilities to ensure our elders have a joyous festive season. Supporters can be part of these events through the sponsorship of festive meals, at a cost of R140 per person for a three-course lunch, or through in-kind donations of snacks and gifts,” said Shamam.

For more information on how to sponsor or donate to these events, visit www.tafta.org.za. Readers can contact Tafta’s Neliswa Makhaza at 031 332 3721, or via [email protected] for information on in-kind donations.

“I would also encourage the readers to follow our social media platforms, especially as we post the pictures from the events. They can include a message of support, hope and love. Many of our elders are becoming tech savvy and are good on social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok. Let’s make the holiday season special for them by helping them connect with the community. Your involvement can make a meaningful difference,” said Shamam.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can contribute, contact [email protected] or call 031 332 3721.

– The Elim Residential Home in Phoenix caters for 19 elders. On average six or seven stay at the home over the festive period.

Spokesperson Cherine Govender said: “At the Elim Home we make it our duty to ensure that the child and parent relationship is maintained or restored. We don’t encourage our residents to live in complete isolation. Therefore, almost 93% of our residents get to spend Christmas with their loved ones or relatives. The remaining 7% choose to spend their festive period at the home due to their loved ones being far away.”

Govender said they had volunteers from schools, universities , rotary clubs and other organisations who assisted them.

“After Covid we did have a rise in visitation at the home, which was quite favourable and many felt they needed to give back to the community.”

Govender said with the rising cost of living, most of the elders found it difficult to purchase most of their groceries and toiletries.

“Most of their children try and help but some have lost their jobs and cannot provide for their parents. The home needs help bringing festive cheer and goodies which the elders often cannot afford.”

For more information, email Govender on [email protected]

– The Aryan Benevolent Home Dayanand Gardens and Salligram Home in Chatsworth have 400 elderly in its care.

Amraj Dursan, the marketing officer for the ABH, said: “The festive season can be an isolating and lonely time for many of the elderly who have no family. The ABH strives to make the festive season brighter with activities and programmes throughout the holiday period.”

He said they appreciated their volunteers: “There is still a culture of volunteerism with people willing to spend time talking to and interacting with our residents. Volunteers also conduct programmes such as yoga, meditation and reading for the elderly.”

The home is always in need of toiletries such as bath soaps, body lotions and roll-ons.

Dursan said: “It will be lovely to be able to give a small gift pack of toiletries to each of our elderly residents.”

Readers can contact Ashana at 031 404 9523 or email [email protected] for more information on how to help.

Related Topics:

elderly careChristmas