C.A.R.E. to Combat the Holiday Blues
It’s that time of year, and the holiday season is in full swing. It’s a time for food, friends and family gatherings — at least for most of us. But for many, the holiday season can bring increased loneliness and feelings of isolation.
As many as one third of adults age 65 and over live alone. But a person doesn’t have to live alone to feel lonely; loneliness can affect anyone who doesn’t feel meaningful connections with other people. Research has shown that loneliness or isolation affects mortality in a similar way to that of a smoking habit of 15 cigarettes per day. Moreover, people who are lonely are more prone to depression and at greater risk of cognitive decline.
The good news is that isolation and loneliness can be easily minimized. To help combat loneliness and protect the mental health of your older loved one this holiday season and throughout the new year, you can follow these easy tips.
1. Communicate consistently
Some older adults can go days without speaking to anyone; especially those who are in poor health or who have limited mobility or transportation options. An in-person visit is ideal, but if you can’t see each other, talking on the phone — or video chatting — can make a world of difference. Encourage other friends or family members to do the same.
2. Actively socialize
Places of worship are a great place for individuals to meet like-minded people and find opportunities for group activities and socialization. You could also consider activities available through a local senior center or senior living community. Offer to join them on their first trip to any new places to reduce anxiety and apprehension.
3. Remain purposeful
Figure out what the older adult in your life likes to do. Often there are other people who share those interests and there are opportunities for socializing surrounding these interests. Even solitary hobbies can become social. Avid readers can join book clubs; people who like to quilt or knit can join sewing or knitting circles. If your older loved one is exceptionally skilled at a craft, they may be able to teach it to others. Having a continued purpose is essential for avoiding depression and decline. Although your older loved one’s “purpose” may change as they age, they never lose the need or desire for being purposeful.
4. Eliminate obstacles
Minimize the obstacles surrounding their opportunities to connect and socialize; arrange weekly transportation to and from friends and family members for lunch and/or dinner. Develop a communication calendar to leave with them so they know when to expect your calls or visits.
Libbi Hash has over 25 years of experience working in senior living and is the Wellness and Resident Relations Specialist for Kisco Senior Living; they provide full-service senior living communities that offer an enriched lifestyle drawn from thoughtful details. She was born and raised in Brevard County and is now enjoying raising her son here.