The holidays are approaching rapidly, and with them we anticipate feelings of joy, gratitude and time spent with family and friends. Unfortunately, for an alarmingly large number of Americans, the holidays may also signal a time of loneliness and despair. While loneliness can affect anyone, the elderly among us are particularly susceptible this time of year. Elderly Care during Holidays is especially important.
Humans are innately social, craving and even requiring social interaction in order to thrive. Sadly, as people age they tend to become more isolated and less able to socialize and connect as often as is healthy. In some cases, this reduced social interaction is caused by a severe illness or lack of previous mobility. Even for the able-bodied, aging brings with it the inevitable loss of friends, colleagues and even spouses. These losses are felt most acutely during the holiday season, when memories of previous years abound.
Although loneliness has been linked to physical illness and functional and cognitive decline, it is often considered a sign of weakness and only discussed with embarrassment, or not brought up at all. Those too ashamed or too depressed by their loneliness may not reach out for the help and interaction they need.
During the holiday season in particular, when people are busy and emotions are high, the elderly may feel as though they are burdening their children or younger family members by asking for help or discussing the loneliness and depression they may be experiencing this time of year.
So what can you do to help your loved one combat loneliness and enjoy the upcoming season? Spending extra time with the elderly in your life may sound simple, but it can have a huge impact on the way they experience the holidays this year. Focus on family, and include them in activities such as holiday decorating, card writing and holiday get-together’s. Make sure they know that their company is valued, and that they don’t have to go it alone while others are enjoying the festivities.
If you have a loved one living in an assisted living facility or unable to travel often, decorate their home with cherished ornaments, and decorate gradually so that there are always more ornaments to look forward to. Bringing children or therapy dogs to visit is always a good idea at this time, as the liveliness of young people and the affection of animals can bring a lot of joy to an older person’s routine. Most importantly, take the time out of your busy schedule to visit. This time of year especially, regular visits and holiday cards will be so appreciated!