It is no secret. The holidays are not necessarily “the happiest time of the year” for everyone. This can be particularly so for aging seniors who may feel isolated during Christmastime due to limited mobility, diminished health or lack of contact with friends and family.
There are, however, a number of simple yet meaningful ways to bring cheer to a senior you have observed as feeling alone and blue this holiday season:
Visits and calls: Checking in is the most straightforward way to reduce a senior’s loneliness. It can be hard to fit this time in with the Christmastime hustle-bustle, but even short visits or phone calls reassure lonely seniors that you are thinking of them and they are not alone.
Get out of the house: Winter weather inhibits seniors from departing their homes, while remaining inside day after day can exacerbate feelings of isolation. Invite a senior over for a meal or offer to take the person shopping.
Even just going for a drive about town to view the Christmas lights is an easy opportunity for a senior to get out of the house, interact with people and abate loneliness.
Maintain traditions: Christmas customs such as writing holiday cards or putting up a tree can seem daunting to older people, yet without these traditions, the holiday season may seem sad. Consider helping to deck the halls of a senior’s home or maybe doing some holiday baking together.
Reminisce together: The holidays invariably remind seniors of the important people in their lives whom they have lost, triggering feelings of sadness. Don’t be afraid to talk about these mourned individuals. Share memories, review photo albums and fondly remember these important people from their past.
Bring the kids: The excitement of young children can light up a senior’s day and beckon Christmas cheer. Bring along a holiday-themed activity for all to share in to spread the joy among the generations. Spend the time together building a gingerbread house or maybe just color pictures of Santa downloaded from the Internet.
Downplay the hype: Help the senior you know keep the focus on the true meaning of Christmas by downplaying holiday hype. Forego the hoopla and opulence that has increased over the years by concentrating on what really matters most.
Remind them how glad you are they are here to share the season with you. And, make sure they understand how important they are to you and others.
Your time and attention is the most meaningful gift you can offer an aging senior who is feeling alone during the holidays. What you might be surprised to discover is that sharing your time to help abate loneliness in a senior may end up being the best holiday present you give yourself this year.