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Helping Your Aging Adult Cope with Loneliness during the Holiday Season

We all look forward to the holiday season full of fun, celebrations, and family get-togethers. However, this wonderful time of the year can be overwhelming and difficult for our senior family members. This is especially true if they have just lost their partner or are battling a mental health issue. These seasons often force their […]

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We all look forward to the holiday season full of fun, celebrations, and family get-togethers. However, this wonderful time of the year can be overwhelming and difficult for our senior family members. This is especially true if they have just lost their partner or are battling a mental health issue.

These seasons often force their thoughts to gravitate to the memories of their youth, further aggravating feelings of loneliness and isolation. These feelings can lead to several other physical and mental conditions ranging from impaired cognitive function to major depressive disorders.

Loneliness poses a serious risk to the overall health of elders, yet it often gets overlooked as a sign of aging. This holiday season, take extra care of your senior loved one and spread cheer in their lives, too. 

Here’s how you can keep your senior loved one feeling anything but lonely during this best time of the year.

1. Bring in Holiday Cards

In this digital era, holiday cards have been replaced with emails, texts, and WhatsApp messages. Most seniors struggle with using technology because they find it tough to communicate effectively through it and are used to the ‘old-style’ way of interacting with people. So, they often feel disconnected when an array of e-wishes come their way. 

Bring back the good old-fashioned holiday cards to help them reconnect with their loved ones. You can either involve them in a card-making activity or get customized festive cards designed for them. Encourage them to get creative by adding a family picture or a meaningful quote to the cards. These cards can then be sent to all loved ones in the family. 

2. Go Traditional with Meals

The holiday season is synonymous with a house full of family members gathered around the dinner table, sharing fun stories and memories. Add cheer to this moment by cooking a traditional meal, especially the one your senior relishes or was expert at making at some point in time.  

If possible, involve your seniors in the meal preparation by assigning them some chores. Being surrounded by family members while making a meal could fill them with joy and the spirit of the season.

If your elder lives at a senior care facility, visit them with their favorite home-cooked meal if you’re allowed, as well as thoughtful gifts to cheer them up. Bring treats for their friends as well. 

3. Add Some Cheer by Decorating Your Space

Decorations may seem like a small part of the festivities. But this simple activity can cheer your seniors up and get them sharing fun stories from their past. Ask them for ideas to decorate the house. They may enjoy making a few decorations, too!

However, pay special attention to their safety. Avoid sharp objects, too many lights, or low-hanging wires. 

If your loved one lives at a senior care center or an assisted living community, get involved in decorating the area or your senior’s room to make them feel special and cared for.  

4. Organize Story Sessions

The holiday season brings back so many fond memories. Indulge in some family time by asking all your loved ones to gather around. Encourage your elder to take over with stories from their childhood, college days, or parenting days. 

Having a loving audience to listen to their experiences is a thrilling experience in itself. If they find it tough to recollect a particular episode, you can use prompts in the form of photographs, greeting cards, letters, or keepsakes. After all, each of these holds a story within! 

5. Keep the Celebrations Hearty and Intimate

In the current conditions, it is not safe for our senior family members to meet too many people. Yet, it’s important to be surrounded by our loved ones to keep loneliness at bay, especially during the holiday season. 

Keep the celebrations low-key. Invite only close family members to keep it simple yet memorable. Being surrounded by their near and dear ones will surely make them happy and feel loved.

6. Plan a Virtual Gathering with Friends

Elders miss their friends the most; more so during the holiday season because everyone’s busy celebrating the moment with their near and dear ones. Given the current pandemic situation, travel isn’t safe. But you can surely count on technology during these tricky times.

Plan a virtual meeting on Skype or Zoom, allowing the seniors to chat and share fun moments. Add a festive touch by asking one of them to perform a song or organize games.  

Keeping the entire family, including your elders, entertained during the holidays can be a tricky yet rewarding experience. Tricky because you need to carefully consider the feelings of your loved ones and rewarding because it brings a smile to their faces. 

With the children and elders coming together, the joy of celebrating the moment multiplies. Use the tips shared above to make your senior family members feel loved and cherished through the season.

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