Helping Elders Beat Holiday Loneliness

helping-elders-holiday-loneliness

Senior Care During Holidays

The holidays are supposed to be happy, joyful and bright—but so often, they are filled with tears of loneliness, particularly for the elderly. While we all may feel the pang of loneliness this time of year, remember that our elderly loved ones are often facing mounting losses of friends, family members, independence and good health. Our At Home Personal Care Team urges everyone to take some time out this holiday season—and, indeed, throughout the year—to put the following 9 tips to help the elderly beat loneliness into action. Not only will this help your elderly loved ones and friends feel a little less lonely, but you’ll feel happier too.

9 Ways to Help the Elderly Beat the Holiday Blues

1. Visit in Person if Possible

Schedule a regular appointment in your calendar to visit your elderly loved ones—and keep it. Most of us will likely be in their shoes someday, so understand how important your contact is to them, even if they don’t show it. If you go in person, you will be able to see firsthand how they are doing and the circumstances they are in so you can help out if necessary. A warm hug and a hand clasp means so much, even if words are difficult. If you live too far away, see if there is a way you can schedule regular video chats with them.

2. Just Listen

Your elderly loved ones may be missing friends who have passed or mourning a spouse, sibling or other special people in their lives. Just being there to listen to them and let them have a cry on your shoulder without telling them to cheer up or snap out of it will mean the world. They need to go through the grieving process, and they need to know they aren’t alone as they travel that difficult road. The love you show them by just listening and holding their hand in these lonely times can provide welcome relief from that burden of holiday-enhanced sorrow they might be feeling.

3. Holiday Cards and Greetings

During the holidays, your loved ones may be receiving holiday cards and letters that inform them of the passing of friends and family. The absence of expected holiday cards can also cause worry and alarm. This can make just opening holiday cards a source of pain this time of year. Rally the family to write happy holiday greetings for your elderly loved ones. Have the kids draw or paint pictures or make simple, cute crafts to share. While it may not remove the sting of bad news from other cards and letters, it will bring a source of joy and light into a challenging time for your loved ones.

4. Take them Out

Loss of mobility or the ability to drive means your elderly loved one is often stuck in one place much of the time. They are unable to attend the social and community events they may have enjoyed in the past. So make the necessary arrangements to take them out to these events, concerts, church gatherings and social events to help them maintain those precious social, spiritual and cultural connections that give life meaning and warmth.

5. Invite them Over

Include and invite your loved one in family gatherings and dinners over the holiday season and throughout the year. Play games together and ask them about family history. Share special recipes and other family traditions. This shows them know that you love them and that they are an important part of your family.

6. Give them a Purpose

Unfortunately, our culture often forgets the incredible wealth of experience, knowledge and history that our elders have gathered over the decades—and we are all the poorer for it. Talk with your elderly loved one about a way that they can serve in the community, even in some small way. Include them in a food drive or other charity project. Encourage them to teach a small class or ask them to just personally teach you a skill they have that you have always wanted to learn. This sense of purpose and being needed banishes loneliness big time!

7. Help Them Maintain their Spiritual Connections

If mobility or transportation issues make it hard for your loved ones to attend their place of worship, please try to help them attend as regularly as possible. If they cannot travel, talk with their spiritual leaders about arranging more frequent home visits with them, or other members of their congregation. Spiritual connections that have strengthened and provided comfort for them in the past are especially essential during this phase of life.

8. Consider a Pet or a Plant

While it may not be appropriate for every senior, many studies have shown that caring for and loving a pet can boost morale and peace for the elderly. Consult with your loved one and their other caregivers about adding a pet to their life if they want to and are able to care for it. Do not make it a surprise. If this is not a good idea for your loved ones, even a beautiful houseplant or an easy-care kitchen window herb garden helps to bring them more peace and joy.

9. Bring Music

Music has a healing power that, while not fully understood, clearly has a powerful positive influence in the lives of those it touches. Create a long digital playlist of your elderly loved one’s favorite music to enjoy, or organize a children’s choir to come and sing songs or share other musical talents with your loved ones and their friends. Take them out to local holiday music concerts. Find some way to bring more music into their lives and watch the transformation.

To discuss more ways to help your elderly loved ones beat holiday loneliness, or loneliness at any time of the year, call At Home Personal Care for ideas and assistance today: (703) 330-2323

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