While the holiday season is generally associated with joy and celebration, it can be a contrasting experience for older adults. The heightened sense of isolation during this time often triggers feelings of sadness and loneliness. If you suspect a loved one may be struggling with loneliness during the holidays, continue reading to discover common causes and helpful strategies to provide support.

Physical or Financial Limitations

Financial or physical limitations can significantly contribute to isolation and loneliness in older adults during the holiday season. Financially, the pressures of holiday spending – be it on gifts, travel, or festive meals – can be daunting. Physically, the cold weather and the potential for treacherous conditions can deter older adults from leaving their homes, isolating them from social engagements. Additionally, those with mobility issues may find it increasingly difficult to participate in holiday traditions, further exacerbating feelings of exclusion and loneliness.

Family Doesn’t Live Nearby

The holiday season can be challenging when older adults need family nearby. They may be unable to be together due to geographical distance or other factors. The absence of family during a time of togetherness can result in a heightened sense of loneliness and isolation. During this period, the constant reminders of family gatherings and celebrations can amplify these feelings in many cases. While friends and community can provide some support, it may not mitigate the longing for the closeness and familiarity of the family during this time.

Loss of Past Traditions

Lifestyle or physical ability changes can often lead to the discontinuation of cherished holiday traditions, amplifying feelings of loneliness and isolation in older adults. Traditions such as decorating the house, preparing special meals, or attending community events may become too burdensome or lose relevance. This loss of familiar rituals can be emotionally challenging as it signifies change.

Ways to Help Seniors Enjoy the Holidays

The effects of holiday loneliness linger long after the season has ended. Recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that loneliness and isolation in older adults can contribute to serious health conditions. These detrimental effects may even rival the impact of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.

As you reflect on those in your life who may be struggling, you can help them break free from this cycle in several ways. Here are five ways to enhance social interaction and ensure older adults feel valued and included in holiday celebrations:

Be Available When You Can

During the holiday season, ensure you are available as much as possible for the older adults in your life. Whether it’s making time for a phone call, scheduling a video chat, or even visiting if it’s safe and feasible, your presence can make a world of difference. If distance is a barrier, consider coordinating with local community services that can provide companionship or check-in services. Remember, your time and attention are the most valuable gifts you can give.

Encourage Participation in Holiday Activities

Encouraging older adults to participate in holiday activities can lift their spirits and combat loneliness. This could be as simple as decorating their living space, baking holiday treats, or even engaging in holiday crafts. These activities are not only mentally stimulating but can also evoke a sense of nostalgia and connection to past holiday experiences. Including them in family traditions would be beneficial, even if done virtually. Doing so will make them feel welcomed and cherished during the holiday season.

Consider Their Physical & Emotional Needs

When planning activities or gatherings, it’s crucial to remember older adults’ physical and emotional needs. Be conscious of their dietary restrictions, mobility issues, or sensory limitations when preparing meals or setting up activities. Also, consider their emotional needs – be patient, offer reassurance, and provide a listening ear. Be mindful of their preferred pace and avoid rushing them. By considering their specific needs and preferences, you can help create a more comfortable, enjoyable, and inclusive holiday experience for them.

Celebrate Their Holiday Traditions

Traditions are a cornerstone of holiday celebrations, providing a sense of continuity and familial bonding. It is important to involve older adults in celebrating traditions they hold dear. This could be anything from baking a favorite holiday recipe or watching a cherished holiday movie to telling memorable holiday stories from their past. Doing so allows them to share personal stories and experiences, fostering intergenerational connections. This can also uplift their mood, making them feel appreciated and cherished during the holiday season.

Start a New Tradition

Just because they are older doesn’t mean older adults can’t enjoy something new. Holidays are a great time to introduce new traditions or activities, which could involve learning a new game, trying a new recipe, or even starting a holiday craft project. Introducing something new can stimulate their creativity and cognitive function. Remember, the goal is not to overwhelm them but to involve them in an activity that brings joy and refreshes their holiday experience. It may become a new tradition that they look forward to each year!

How Maxim at Home Helps Older Adults Fight Loneliness

Maxim at Home recognizes the impact of loneliness on older adults, particularly during the holiday season. To combat this, our dedicated team helps seniors feel connected and valued during these special times. Our Companions provide support and engage seniors in meaningful conversations and activities that align with their interests.

Whether sharing a warm cup of cocoa, decorating the house, or reminiscing over holiday photos, we aim to create an atmosphere of companionship and warmth. Through these small but significant gestures, we can help alleviate feelings of isolation and enable our seniors to experience the joy of the holiday season.

 

The Maxim at Home team is here to help.

Do you need help with a loved one?  Then consider Maxim at Home’s homemaker and companionship services. Our team of friendly, compassionate Companions takes great pride in serving people in their own community who need light assistance with daily chores, some company and conversation, or convenient transportation for errands, appointments, or trips to the store.

Explore our services to learn more about our:

  • Homemaker and companionship services
  • Easy-to-use scheduling platform
  • “Best Value” service pricing
  • Only 1-hour service minimum

 

Sign up in seconds to enjoy free 24-hour access to our on-demand scheduling platform, where you can view our team of vetted compassionate companions.

 

If you have questions about our services, please feel free to call 1-844-624-5646 to speak to one of our caring service Advisors.


Resource links:

CDC – Health Risks of Social Isolation and Loneliness

https://www.cdc.gov/emotional-wellbeing/social-connectedness/loneliness.htm#:~:text=Social%20isolation%20and%20loneliness%20have,linked%20to%20increased%20risk%20for%3A&text=Heart%20disease%20and%20stroke.,Type%202%20diabetes

 

National Institute on Aging – Loneliness and Social Isolation — Tips for Staying Connected

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/loneliness-and-social-isolation/loneliness-and-social-isolation-tips-staying-connected

 

Cedars Sinai – Combating Loneliness to Keep Seniors Healthy and Happy

https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/seniors-fighting-loneliness.html

 

National Council on Aging – Four Steps to Combat Loneliness in Seniors During the Holidays

https://ncoa.org/article/four-steps-to-combat-loneliness-in-seniors-during-the-holiday-and-beyond

 

American Medical Resource Institute – The Guide to Overcoming Holiday Depression for the Elderly and Their Caretakers

https://www.aclsonline.us/blog/the-guide-to-overcoming-holiday-depression-for-the-elderly-and-their-caretakers/

 

National Council on Aging – Taking Care of Your Health through the Holiday Season

https://ncoa.org/article/taking-care-of-your-health-through-the-holiday-season