The holidays are going to look different this year.
For you or me, that might mean eating Christmas dinner with just our immediate family rather than having a large gathering.
It might mean losing their one opportunity to see family for the entire year for a senior citizen who lives alone.
With Covid-19 on the rise once again, older adults are increasingly being forced to spend time alone. Understandably, families are concerned about their older loved ones’ mental and emotional health.
If you find yourself in this boat, keep reading for a few ways you can help your elderly family and friends feel your love from afar.
Tips for Helping a Senior Deal with Holiday Loneliness
Growing older can mean children are growing up and moving away, losing friends, chronic illness, hearing loss, and more.
Because of this, seniors often experience loneliness regularly. This year, the holiday season, in particular, will be much more difficult for many people.
Here are a few things you can do to help brighten their days:
- Practice active listening. Try to fully listen when your loved one wants to talk, even if the topic is negative. An honest conversation may help seniors work through whatever is bothering them and will likely reveal other ways in which you can help.
- Send a card. There’s something to be said for a handwritten card or note. Ask family members and friends to send your older loved one a holiday greeting (bonus points for a family photograph or child’s drawing!).
- Plan safe activities. If your senior lives in a long-term care facility, check with the activities director to see what they have planned for the residents. Sign your loved one up for any classes or events they may enjoy and encourage them to get to know others in their community.
- Tap into local resources. Check with your loved one’s religious organization to see if they can offer social or spiritual support. Many organizations provide one-on-one counseling to those who are having difficulties in life, and you may be able to arrange for an online or telephone visit.
- Help them decorate. Many seniors enjoy reflecting on past holidays as they unpack and arrange seasonal decorations. Help them add festive touches to their home or room with small adornments such as garland, wreaths, or battery-operated candles. Be sure to ask them about the history behind unique pieces and listen to the stories!
- Make traditional baked goods. Is there a special holiday recipe that’s been passed down in your family from generation to generation? Whip up a batch of those cookies or that bread and hand-deliver it to your older loved one to enjoy on their own.
- Try new hobbies. Try learning about what your older loved one likes to do to relax or as a hobby. If they don’t already have a hobby, ask if there’s one they’d like to try. Even seemingly solitary hobbies, like knitting or crossword puzzles, often lead to social conversations and increased interaction with others.
Remember that many families face tough times this year, and holiday celebrations are likely to look very different. Do what you can to help your older loved one feel involved without stressing yourself. If you put too much on your plate, neither you nor your loved one will likely enjoy the season.
If you’ve taken steps to address loneliness but feel that your older loved one still needs companionship, consider a home health aide. Our aides can help out by planning and scheduling activities, reading aloud, renting and watching movies, or simply sitting down for a chat. Reach out today to learn more: (908) 927-0500.