Grandmother and granddaughter being close together

How to Help a Lonely Older Adult During the Holidays

           Most people feel pressure to enjoy themselves during the holidays because the season is supposed to be merry and bright.  Many older adults feel isolated and unhappy this time of year because of the loss of loved ones and friends that pass away, medical or physical conditions, etc.  Neighborhoods may change over the years and older adults who remain in their homes can feel lonely and disconnected from their communities. As a result, depression may set in, energy and mobility levels may decrease resulting in feelings of loss of independence and opportunities.

           If you believe that an older adult may be feeling depressed or lonely this time of year, following are ways to be supportive and help lift their spirits:

  • Reach out to them and make time for them. Take the time to listen, even if the conversation is negative. Try to help them process what is bothering them whether it be grieving a loss or coming to terms with challenges in their life. Call or video chat with them if you can’t be there in person. 
  • Remind them they are an important part of your life and that they are not a burden.  Include them in the festivities and encourage them to do whatever they can do.
  • Help them add decorative touches to their home or room (in a long-term care facility).  This can include artificial wreaths, floral arrangements, garland, etc. Make sure these items do not present a safety hazard, 
  • Cook traditional baked goods or treats together.
  • Look at family photos, watch home videos or movies, listen to holiday music, do crafts together, etc.  Start new hobbies.
  • Get out and take a brisk walk.
  • Encourage and facilitate social activities at local organizations. Volunteer at places of worship, hospitals, and other places in the community.
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