The holiday season is a time of fun and festivity for many, but it’s a time of year that can stir up feelings of loneliness for older adults who live alone or don’t have friends and family nearby. If you’re concerned a senior in your life might be having a hard time this year, consider these tips for reducing their loneliness and staying connected with them during the holidays.
Why Seniors Experience Loneliness During the Holidays
The holiday experience is often very personal and has a different meaning for each individual. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah happening over the short span of one month, the season can feel like a blur of food, family and fun. However, many older adults find themselves not having the same joyful holiday experience of years past.
A study from the AARP took a closer look at holiday loneliness and found 31% percent of respondents said they had felt lonely during the holiday season sometime in the past five years. So what makes this feeling more prevalent among the older adult community? Here are some of the common issues that contribute:
Distance From Loved Ones
As families grow and evolve, loved ones who used to live close may relocate or have conflicting priorities that make it more difficult to gather during the holiday season. This distance from friends and family can lead to increased feelings of isolation that add up over time and are magnified around the holidays. Beyond feeling lonely, isolation can have health effects on older adults, ranging from depression and anxiety to a weakened immune system.
Seasonality Limits Opportunities
For older adults that may not have the same mobility they used to, the changing of seasons can feel limiting. When the weather turns cold, going out to attend holiday events and activities may not seem as feasible anymore.
One of the things that makes the holidays special is seeing the enjoyment in others. Whether that’s watching young ones gleefully open presents or picking out the perfect ornament for the Christmas tree, these dynamics tend to change with age. Without youthful enthusiasm or established traditions, older adults may find the holidays just don’t feel the same as they used to and are less inclined to celebrate.
4 Tips for Helping Seniors Deal with Holiday Loneliness
Despite changes in the holiday season that come with age, the most important thing is to find meaningful ways to stay connected. If you’re concerned a senior in your life might be suffering from loneliness during this time of year, these five tips can help them feel appreciated and included.
1. Listen and Understand
One of the best ways to alleviate holiday loneliness is to work through what’s causing those feelings with care and compassion. It’s often expected that the holiday season should be nothing but cheer, so those who don’t have the same experience might be hesitant to open up. When reaching out to a senior you believe might be feeling lonely, try to provide a safe space where any feelings can be shared honestly without judgment or criticism. This can help get to the source of their loneliness and illuminate ways to make the holidays more enjoyable.
2. Organize Outreach
If the luxury of enjoying festivities together in person isn’t an option for the older adult in your life, lead the charge for outreach among friends and family. This could be anything from having a card-making party to setting up a call schedule for loved ones to check in with the individual throughout the season. While everyone gets busy during this time, having a structured plan helps encourage accountability and participation. The ultimate goal should be to remind those closest to us they’re not only remembered, but appreciated.
3. Adjust Accordingly
When you imagine the holidays, you might think of large gatherings filled with festive music, food and drinks. For many older adults, this sort of situation can seem quite intimidating. Seniors may not feel as confident in large groups or have difficulty hearing conversations over loud music and the buzz of the crowd. Consider ways you can adjust your celebrations to make the party more accommodating for the older adults in attendance.
4. Do What They Love
As times change and traditions fade, it’s not uncommon for older adults to feel lost amid celebrations that mean more to others. Consider how to incorporate or preserve some of the traditions favored by the older adults in your family. Familiarity provides something to look forward to and can bring back positive holiday memories. Anything from decorating the tree with treasured ornaments to baking holiday treats together goes a long way in making the season more familiar for seniors who might feel alienated by the new way of doing things.
How Edgemere Helps Reduce Loneliness During the Holidays
At Edgemere, our top priority is the wellness of our residents. As the premier retirement community in North Texas, we offer an unparalleled set of benefits to nurture spiritual, intellectual and emotional well-being. Whether this is enjoying a special meal at our chef-led dining venues or crafting holiday cards, we do everything we can to encourage and enable residents to celebrate the holidays in ways they find most meaningful.
In addition to the many community amenities, our convenient Dallas location provides easy access to take advantage of the numerous cultural opportunities the city has to offer throughout the holiday season. We provide several transportation options so residents can take in a favorite show or gather with nearby friends and family at their convenience. Better yet, you can count on our friendly, caring staff being available around the clock to help with any health services< needs that arise. We work hard to make sure every resident feels included in the community.
If you’d like to learn more about the upcoming holiday events at Edgemere or want to experience our community for yourself, please don’t hesitate to contact us at your convenience.