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10 Tips to Help Seniors Facing Holiday Loneliness

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The holiday season can be difficult for seniors, especially those living alone and facing the risks of isolation. Here are a few tips on engaging, comforting, and checking up on your aging loved ones this time of year. This expert advice is thanks to St. Margaret Hall, a Carmelite System senior care community in Cincinnati, OH.

1) Actively Listening – Make a point of actively listening when your loved one wants to talk. An honest and empathetic conversation can help them process any issues they may currently be experiencing. These open conversations may also reveal why they may be feeling down, and in turn, perhaps inspire other ways to lift their spirits.

2) Reminding Them of Their Importance – Remind your loved ones of how important they are as a part of your life, your family members’ lives, and these annual holiday celebrations. Our elders tend to feel like a burden during the holiday season. Instead, encourage them to do what they are capable of and show appreciation for their contributions.

3) Holiday Cards – Ask family members and friends to contribute cards, photographs, or drawings to help keep the senior’s seasonal mail more upbeat. Don’t forget, your elder’s connections with their life-long friends are important relationships to them but they may need some help! By simply offering to assist in writing outgoing holiday cards, you can provide your senior with a cherished memory and the opportunity to be involved in the lives of those close to them.

4) Focus on The Real Meaning of Celebrations – Remind them that they have taught you the importance of family and friendship as opposed to receiving gifts and planning grand parties and thank them for that. Perhaps substitute a material gift for something more experience-based, like tickets to see a play together or dinner at their favorite restaurant.

5) Spiritual Support – Check with your loved one’s religious organization to see if they can offer social and/or spiritual support. Simply having someone to talk to can go a long way toward relieving depression.

6) Assist in Adding Festive Touches – Help add festive touches to their home or room. Many seniors enjoy reflecting on past holidays as they unpack cherished decorations, so be sure to listen to their stories and ask about special pieces. Try to decorate in stages to prolong the fun and give them something to look forward to.

7) Cook Traditional Baked Goods or Treats – Plan to cook or bake with your loved one throughout the holiday season. If they’re not within visiting distance, mail them a box of familiar treats that represent your holiday customs or good memories you’ve shared together.

8) Encourage & Facilitate Social Activities – Places of faith are great locations for individuals to meet like-minded people and join group activities. Your aging loved one may also consider activities available through a local senior center. Offer to join them on their first trip to any new places to reduce anxiety and apprehension.

9) Pen Pal Date – If your aging loved one has a long-time pen pal or long-distance friend, plan a get-together by contacting their friend and coordinating a virtual or in-person meet-up. This would be a great chance for them to spend some time together and can offer you even more insight into their interests and hobbies.

10) Make Them Feel Loved & Included – The most important thing you can do with a senior to make them feel loved and included this season is to simply spend time with them in a safe way. If you cannot get together in person this holiday season, schedule some time to have a phone, Zoom or FaceTime call with them. Regardless of what you decide to do, anytime spent with your loved one will be a special gift.

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