Too many senior citizens come down with a case of Holiday Blues this time of the year. It’s not a very “jolly” season – especially if you’re older and living alone. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) estimates that 28 percent or more of folks in the 65-plus segment of the population live alone and while it can be tough on them each and every day, the holiday season is an especially rough reminder of their solitary lives.
NCOA says that “Loneliness is more than an emotional issue; it has real implications for physical and mental health. Recent research has shown that feeling lonely or being isolated affects mortality in a similar way to that of a smoking habit of 15 cigarettes per day and has more of an impact on mortality than other risk factors, like obesity and sedentary lifestyle.”
According to Rebecca Weber, CEO of the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC), it doesn’t have to be that way if caring relatives and neighbors take the time and make the effort to show them that you care.
“Schedule visits or just pop in unexpected, pick up the phone, include them in your holiday celebrations and you’ll give them the gift of hope and a measure of happiness. They’ll feel better and so will you,” Weber said.
She added that it’s not easy growing old and it’s not easy for friends and relations to schedule such additional chores amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, especially in the era of the COVID pandemic.
“Just remember what the holidays are all about—not the parties, the presents and the decorations. It’s about family, friends and community.”
Here some activities that can wake a lonely senior, give them a feeling of belonging and make them feel wanted:
Engage in activities that bring back memories of happier times such as reviving holiday traditions.
Start a conversation about the most memorable things they used to do in the good old days.
Find old photos and share them.
Have a holiday cook-off based on old family recipes.
Take them out for lunch or dinner.
Resurrect old family traditions.
Help them to decorate their home or room in a festive manner.
AMAC’s Weber suggests that you “not make these deeds holiday one-offs; make them year round recurring activities as a means of keeping them busy and easing the pain of living alone throughout the year.”