Thanksgiving seems to have flown around this year and on Thursday, many of us were spending time with family and friends. In our excitement, we can often forget that for an elderly friend or relative the holiday season can be an incredibly lonely and isolating time.
Rather than happiness and joy, the holiday season can act as a reminder that a once-bustling and vibrant home, is now silent and still. It may be the first year without a spouse or much-loved friend or family member. Loneliness is true of other holidays and events but the weather conditions over the winter holiday season can make it hard for seniors to get out and about, making them feel particularly isolated.
This holiday season, be mindful of helping elderly friends and families. Here are our top tips:
- Engage in regular phone calls or visits to help your loved one feel just that, loved and cared for
- Help them decorate their home, but remember to help them take the decorations down afterward. May seniors choose not to decorate as it’s just them, or because they are physically unable to decorate their home
- Involve them in the holiday preparations. This can be anything from taking them out present shopping, to writing out Christmas cards together.
- Ask them for recipe ideas, or baking tips so that they have a feeling of self-worth and usefulness
- Take them to carol concerts, or to other holiday events
- See if they need help with chores, or would like to visit a friend or relative.
- Drive them to the cemetery to lay flowers for their loved ones no longer here
- Hire a carer to spend time with them so that they have human contact and someone to converse with
Loneliness can lead to depression which can lead to health issues. Watch out for signs of depression. These can include:
- A loss or increase in appetite
- An increase in drinking alcohol
- A change of sleeping habits, this can be insomnia, to not wanting to get out of bed, to napping more frequently
- A lack of interest when you chat
- A loss of interest in self-hygiene or presentation
If you believe your elderly friend or family member is suffering from depression, raise your concern with them and book an appointment with their physician.
There is a big difference in being alone, and being lonely so this holiday season, let’s help keep our loved ones from feeling lonely, even if they are alone for some of the time.