The holiday season can be an especially tough and lonely time for seniors in retirement residences or long-term care facilities, or who live on their own.
So why not take some time out this December, to do something special for a senior over the holidays?
Here are just a few ideas to help out—whether it’s a family member, friend, or complete stranger. Each idea is simple, but can mean so much to a senior!
Take them shopping
Offer to do the driving and push the cart around. Or, if they have limited mobility, ensure they have a walker or wheelchair to make moving more comfortable. Meanwhile, do door-to-door pick-up and drop-off, so they don’t have to risk falling in the slippery snow and ice.
Do their holiday shopping for them
Ask them for a list of things they’d like to buy, and then do the legwork for them (including delivery). And remember, they are likely on a limited budget, so avoid making expensive recommendations.
Get together with a senior, put on some holiday music, and make it a social activity. You may need to do most of the work if they have arthritis or mobility problems. Don’t forget to bring the supplies!
Help them decorate
Add decorative touches to their home or retirement residence room. Even a small potted tree with mini lights can bring a nice warm holiday feel to their surroundings.
Send a card in the mail
According to this article, cards often bring bad news to seniors and tend to diminish in quantity over the years (given that fewer people send cards anymore). Send a nice card, letter or picture to keep the senior’s seasonal mail more upbeat.
Seek out events
Find out and attend events for seniors in your community, or see if there are any social gatherings coming up at their retirement residence. Tell the senior in your life about these events, and/or volunteer your time at one!
Get the kids involved
There are so many benefits to bringing youth and seniors together—for both generations! If you have kids in your life, bring them along when you visit or help a senior. They can learn a lot from each other and enjoy each other’s company—despite the age gap.
Don’t have a senior in your life, but still want to do something for them?
Contact your local retirement residence or nearby church or community centre. Many organizations have special programs around the holidays, where they make special visits to seniors who live alone. There are also programs like Be A Santa To A Senior and the Ottawa-based Santa Loves Seniors, which coordinate the sending of gifts.
Especially if it’s a family member, remind them that they are loved by including them in holiday festivities. Whether it’s a movie night at home, a small gathering of friends and family, doing crafts or baking, a simple invitation can go a long way to easing their loneliness.
Above all else, listen
Be an active listener, and show empathy. Not all discussions may be positive—in fact, some topics of conversation may be quite sad. But by listening, you can learn a lot about the senior in your life. If they’re feeling down over the holidays, you may also be able to lift their spirits simply by lending a caring ear.
On behalf of Tea and Toast, I wish you and your family—and the senior(s) in your life—a very happy holiday season!
Amy McConnell, Owner Tea & Toast