For many people, the holiday season is not the most wonderful time of the year. For one thing, it can be extremely stressful. In addition to normal demands on your time, there are gifts to buy, cards to send, halls to deck, cookies to bake, parties to attend, and meals to plan.
For older adults, the festive season may be anything but. Forty-three percent of seniors report feeling lonely on a regular basis, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. During the holidays, those feelings are amplified.
Holiday fatigue is one reason why. Seniors have been there, done that — the holidays are just not the same as they used to be. Social isolation is another obvious reason why seniors feel lonely. Friends and family members may have moved away or passed away, and their absence leaves a void that’s hard to fill. Seniors who live by themselves may also dread going to parties without a partner and end up staying home. Physical limitations, such as vision and mobility problems, are another reason why getting out and about during the holidays is a challenge for seniors.
Isolation is like a Big Lump of Coal in Your Stocking
Nearly one-third of people 65 or older live alone. If they’re feeling socially isolated, they’re at increased risk of developing heart disease and stroke, depression, cognitive decline and premature death. Prolonged isolation can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The good news is, you can brighten the holidays for an older adult just by letting them know you care. All it takes is for you to reach out, connect and make time for the loved one in your life.
6 Ways to Brighten the Holidays for Older Adults
Follow these tips to banish the blues and make spirits bright for seniors dealing with loneliness.
1. Make Communication a Priority
Nothing beats an in-person visit, but if you can’t see each other around the holidays, a call or video chat can lift the spirits and brighten a loved one’s day. If they’re on Facebook, encourage them to catch up with old friends they haven’t contacted recently.
2. Encourage Hobbies and Other Areas of Interest
Is there a hobby or interest your loved one would like to pick up again or try? Book clubs, sewing circles and adult education classes are great ways to rekindle old interests and meet like-minded people.
3. Go for a Walk
Exercise helps ward off anxiety and depression. Go for a walk around the neighborhood with the senior in your life. Joining an online fitness class is also a good way to get those endorphins flowing and get your mind in a better place.
4. Get in the Holiday Spirit
If you, or someone you love, is feeling less than cheerful, try a traditional remedy. Bake cookies, put on some holiday music, watch your favorite holiday movies, deck the halls, go see the lights in your neighborhood, or visit a place of worship.
5. Talk it Out
Though they’re more likely to suffer from depression, seniors are less likely to seek help for it. Remind the senior in your life that it’s okay to feel lonely and it’s okay to talk about it. Let them know you’re there for them. Talking about it can help them process their feelings.
6. Spend Time Together
Find ways to spend extra time with your loved one. It’s the greatest gift you can give this holiday season.
Social Connection at Brandon Wilde is the Gift that Keeps on Giving
We know how important it is for seniors to feel connected to maintain their health and well-being. That’s why we offer residents a wide variety of group classes, activities and events. With a focus on wellness and a positive approach to senior living, life at Brandon Wilde is merry and bright throughout the year.