The holiday season is upon us and for many, it is a time of joy, happiness, traditions, and visiting with loved ones. While travel is expected to continue to increase and come within pre-pandemic numbers according to AAA during this holiday season, for many seniors and aging adults, remaining home is a safer option. And while staying home is safer, for more than 20% of elders, the holidays evoke loneliness and social isolation. Whether it's because family does not travel, or because there are no other living relatives to share in the holiday, being alone for the holidays is extremely common.
Finding ways to help support and care for seniors in your family or local community can help lessen the feelings of loneliness and isolation experienced. Here are a few things that can be done to spread holiday cheer.
- Look at Family Albums
For the senior or aging adult in your life, spend time looking through family photo albums. Taking a walk down memory lane is a great way to discuss feelings and draw a connection. For those with Alzheimer's or Dementia, photo albums can be comforting and a sense of familiarity while also facilitate communication.
- Share a Favorite Meal or Recipe
While holiday traditions vary from one person to the next, a universal theme of sharing holidays accompanied by favorite meals or treats. Spending time making a favorite meal or enjoying a dessert is a great way to engage with an elderly loved one or an aging adult with memory challenges. These types of activities bring people of different generations together while helping seniors feel special.
- Decorate for the Holidays
Nothing feels more festive than seeing decorations for the holidays. As seniors age, decorating can be more challenging especially when it comes to unpacking holiday décor, using ladders, or lifting objects overhead. Helping a senior get in the holiday spirit by decorating their home can be uplifting. As cherished decorations are unpacked, aging adults are sure to have accompanying stories for their special pieces. Listening to those stories while helping place decorations in a safe way in ones' home are great ways to connect during the holidays.
- Spread Holiday Cheer
If caroling or volunteering is something that a senior used to do but may not be able to physically do, helping them facilitating a charitable type of event from the comfort of their own home can help bridge the gap and connect them to their local community. Ideas include writing letters to troops overseas, knitting for a local hospital or animal shelter, or creating homemade holiday cards for first responders.
- Be Together Virtually
If you are away from your loved one or if they are away from other family members, consider leveraging modern technology to bring people together virtually. Helping to set up video chats or connect via FaceTime can help others feel connected when apart.
If you don't have an elderly loved one but want to help brighten a senior's holiday, consider visiting a nearby long-term care facility, checking in on elderly neighbors, or supporting local community efforts like the Be A Santa for a Senior program where you can donate gifts to community seniors in need.
Regardless of what you decide to do, finding time to spend with a senior in your family or community is sure to help reduce the feelings of loneliness and depression during the holidays.
Lastly, for many families, the holidays are a great time to consider (or reconsider) in-home care for the seniors in your life. With services like companionship, 24-hour care, Dementia Care, transportation services, light housekeeping, and much more, Home Instead in the Pittsburgh, PA area can ensure your family is cared for year-round.
Call our home care office today at (412) 264-4700 for a FREE consultation and find out more information on helping your aging loved one to remain at home.