For many individuals, the holiday season is their favorite time of year. It’s a time when you can gather with family and friends to give gifts, enjoy a few drinks, eat to our heart’s content and enjoy each other’s company. For many seniors, however, the holiday season can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. Better understand the reasons why seniors experience loneliness during the holidays and learn tips to help reduce those feelings and raise seniors’ spirits.
Understanding the Impact of Loneliness on Older Adults
According to the AARP, up to 31% of older adults feel lonely around the holidays. It’s important to realize seniors can experience loneliness during the holidays for a variety of reasons. For some seniors, it’s because their family and friends don’t live nearby or have moved away. For others, it’s intense feelings of nostalgia and what the holiday once meant for them when they were younger. No matter what causes these feelings, the effect of loneliness on health is quite severe.
In fact, research has shown loneliness can affect mortality as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. These feelings of loneliness are often accompanied by other feelings of anxiety and depression as well. With that in mind, you can take steps to ensure your loved ones don’t experience these potentially damaging health effects during the holiday season.
3 Tips for Helping Seniors Overcome Holiday Loneliness
There are several approaches to helping seniors overcome holiday loneliness. Consider these three ways to help your loved ones fight through it and enjoy the holiday season again.
Communication is Critical
Nearly 30% of seniors live alone, but even those who live with family may not get as much social interaction as they’d like. Try to make regular in-person visits to the seniors in your life. If distance is an issue, a video chat or a phone call works, too. Older adults, like anyone else, just want to feel connected. Let your loved ones know you’re there for them and that you care about them by engaging in honest and empathetic discussions about their lives. You can also recruit other members of the family and close friends to get involved on a regular basis.
Encourage Them to Get Involved
Social activities and hobbies are another great way to decrease feelings of loneliness for seniors. For some older adults this could mean getting involved at their local place of worship or volunteering in the community. Others might be more comfortable practicing hobbies in a more group-oriented setting. A common misconception is that a hobby is too solitary to do in a group, but even activities like reading and knitting have book clubs or meet-ups to join.
Finding outlets outside of the home gives seniors the opportunity to build strong social bonds with their community and others who share their interests and values, reducing their chances of being overcome with seasonal depression and loneliness.
Celebrate Traditions New and Old
Not everyone can keep up with the hustle and bustle of the holidays. From putting up decorations to caroling with friends and family, the sheer volume of activities can sometimes be a lot to ask of older adults. But you never want anyone to feel excluded, which is why it’s important to design traditions and activities that everyone can take part in. Focus on simple but fun activities that could even include elements of past traditions that would appeal to seniors.
How Oak Trace Helps Reduce Loneliness Among Residents During the Holidays
At Oak Trace, joy and optimism are essential elements of our independent living community. Our staff works tirelessly to enable our residents to live free of obligations and take advantage of the life-enriching community feature we have to offer. Most importantly, we maintain a warm and friendly atmosphere that is supported by residents who are always kind and considerate and welcome newcomers to the community with open arms.
If this sounds like a community where you or a loved one could thrive, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our dedicated team is ready to answer any questions you have and show you what makes Oak Trace a special place to call home.