The holidays are quickly approaching—but not everyone is excited about it.
For seniors, this can be an incredibly emotional and lonely time of year.
Here are just a few reasons why seniors get the holiday blues:
- It’s cold, icy and slippery outside—not to mention getting darker earlier—so a senior with limited mobility may feel especially confined to the indoors.
- They may be dealing with the loss of a spouse and adjusting to spending the holidays alone.
- Their peers may be getting increasingly ill or dying, and they may themselves be feeling anxiety for their own wellbeing.
Moreover, those negative feelings can worsen when seniors live alone, away from daily social interaction.
As the holidays draw near, here are a few thoughtful ways you can help keep an eye on your loved ones, and even boost their spirits.
1. Watch for signs of depression
The holidays can be nostalgic for everyone—but they can also be a painful reminder for seniors, many of whom have lost spouses or peers.
Science shows that social isolation is a key factor that contributes to depression and a decline in seniors’ mental health. Checking in regularly with your loved one can help you stay on top of any symptoms of depression.
Meanwhile, check out Tea and Toast’s guide on Caring for Seniors with Mental Illness and Mental Health Problems.
2. Visit them more than just on that “special day”
As mentioned above, social isolation leads to seniors’ mental health problems. So if you can, try to integrate seniors into more than just Christmas Day (or Christmas Eve, or whatever your holiday’s most special day is).
This may be especially enjoyable to them if they spend time with grandchildren. Here is a list of things that grandkids and grandparents can do together, even in a small physical setting.
3. Help keep traditions alive
If there are any particular holiday traditions your loved one likes to do, make sure to celebrate it with them.
For example, they may like attending a specific church service, or going to see Handel’s Messiah every year.
Taking part in things they enjoy will make their spirits a little brighter, even if they are having a difficult time dealing with the holiday season.
4. Lower the “burden of holiday expectations”
As you already know, ensuring a wonderful holiday season for everyone else requires a lot of work! But not all seniors are physically able to fulfill the same traditions they used to. For example, the slippery, cold and wintry weather can make it difficult for seniors to venture outdoors for shopping.
They also may not be mobile enough or live in a large enough place to cook or host a meal.
You can help ease the “expectations burden” of the holidays by offering to help a senior with cooking, shopping, or anything else they need.
5. Help keep seniors’ costs low
Many seniors are on fixed incomes—and the holidays can bring on stress associated with gift-giving.
Help them keep their costs down by notifying them of sales, giving them a maximum to spend on grandchildren, or even suggesting they don’t buy any presents at all (instead, let your family spoil them).
6. Encourage them to get a flu shot
Unfortunately, the holiday season is also the dreaded flu season!
A flu shot is especially important if the senior in your life is prone to illness and seeing people over the holidays.
Moreover, people aged 65 and over are more susceptible to infection—which can lead to serious complications including pneumonia.
7. Consider investing in a “winter stay”
If you don’t live in the same city as your aging parent or relative, and you are concerned about them being isolated at this time of year, consider looking into a winter stay.
Also referred to as a “short-term stay,” there are so many benefits to staying temporarily in a retirement residence!
Need more inspiration?
Help combat seniors’ holiday blues by trying out some of these other ideas!
The holiday season is a wonderful time to show a little bit more kindness to others. We hope these ideas will inspire you to help seniors enjoy all that this time of year has to offer.
Learn about Tea & Toast’s retirement living search service! We can find the perfect home for you or your loved one. Contact a retirement living advisor today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-698-1319.