BAKERSFIELD, CA. — The holiday season can be a difficult time for the elderly, especially those living away from their families in retirement homes. About 530,000 people over the age of 65 are expected to spend Christmas alone this holiday season, according to the U.S. Department of Health. As many as 60% of nursing home residents don't receive regular visitors, according to research from the University of South Alabama.
According to Age U.K., a London-based charity focused on curing loneliness in the elderly community, loneliness can be as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Joanne and Ernie Rayhill just moved in the Columbus Estates retirement home. This will be their first Christmas in the home. Although the couple will spend Christmas day with their family, they say it's not the case for most people in the home.
"If you don't have a car, it's hard to get around" said Ernie. "If no one comes to visit you, it can get lonely."
Columbus Estates hosts a dinner and movie for those that don't have family to spend the holiday with.
"My best advice is to do the best you can with what you have and where you are," said Ernie.