In the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, it's crucial to pause and reflect on the emotional well-being of the senior citizens in our lives. This blog aims to explore the issue of loneliness in senior citizens during the holidays and offers ways to create a festive and joyful impact on the older loved ones in our lives. It's important to take meaningful actions to ensure that no senior spends the holidays feeling isolated or forgotten.
The holidays can be hard for seniors, but with these tips, you can help decrease loneliness and motivate seniors to enjoy the season and get into a festive spirit while keeping them safe. There are a variety of ways to support seniors during the holiday season. Holiday activities for seniors include:
- Decorate their home
One way to bring holiday cheer to a senior during the holidays is to help them decorate their home with holiday decorations. Many need assistance (or motivation) to put up decorations, so offer a cheerful smile and a helping hand. Decorations can be as simple or as extensive as you would like – no need to spend a lot of money! Dollar stores have a lot of festive decorations for low cost.
Use a variety of decorations, such as a small artificial tree, tinsel or garland, and twinkly Christmas lights. These decorations are fun and easy to put up and can definitely support the Christmas spirit in seniors for the holidays.
Another way to put up decorations is to create holiday crafts with seniors. Whether it’s making ornaments, photo keepsakes or a festive wreath, creating something special with your loved one will help give them a sense of purpose and get them into the cheerful, holiday spirit.
In fact, the act of putting up decorations, and enjoying them afterward, boosts the happiness hormone dopamine. This can literally change the body's hormones, as psychologist Deborah Serani explains. “It creates a neurological change that can produce happiness,” she says.
- Prepare and share meals
There are a lot of goodies to be had around the holiday season, from savory bites to decorated cookies and more. When you are creating these delectable treats at home, remember to make extra and share them with a senior in your life.
If your loved one has dietary restrictions, make sure to pay attention to what they should have in moderation, and tweak your recipes to accommodate. Your loved one will feel extra special that you took this into account so they can indulge a little without having to feel like they are missing out on all the treats of the season.
Don’t just stop at treats – there are a lot of recipes that you can prepare and share, like slow cookers full of savory soup or a casserole. If possible, incorporate a senior’s favorite or nostalgic family recipes to share with them. It will remind them of their favorite holiday memories, and they will be thankful that you remembered to include them in your meal preparation.
At Anthology of Rochester Hills, residents recently warmed up with a chili cook-off, embracing the cold weather with a feast for all residents. Events like this in senior communities are great ways to prompt socialization with neighbors and interaction with team members.
- Invite seniors to holiday events
The holiday season is the perfect time to get out of the house and enjoy the wonders of the season. Whether you are watching Christmas movies, enjoying the twinkling lights atop rooftops in the neighborhood or attending a religious celebration, include your loved one in these activities for the holidays.
At the Anthology of Anderson Township community, team members organized a Holiday Open House featuring photos with Santa, hot cocoa, appetizers and more. What a festive way to get seniors involved in some good old-fashioned Christmas spirit!
If your senior is unable to leave their home or community during the holidays due to accessibility issues or other reasons, arrange a small gathering with friends and family to sing Christmas carols to your senior and their neighbors. This is an extra effort to support seniors during the holidays, which they will appreciate, especially for those who do not have family nearby to spend the holidays with.
At the Anthology of The Plaza community, the dedicated team works together to create special outings for the residents, including walkathons. Wouldn’t it be fun to support seniors during the holidays with a special outing that raises funds for a senior charity as well as motivating residents to get involved and check out the neighborhood lights?
- Visit with seniors during the holidays
It may sound simple, but visiting seniors is one of the best ways to support them during the holidays. Many seniors do not have family or friends nearby and may be spending the majority of the holiday season alone, so it’s a great time to visit local retirement communities and have a chat with some of the residents.
When you go to visit, bring a small gift – such as packets of hot cocoa or some homemade decorated cookies – to share with them. Loneliness during the holidays is one of the biggest mood and morale killers of the season, so go out of your way (even small ways!) to make seniors feel special and loved throughout the holiday season.
- Make cards for the elderly in the holiday season
Can’t stop by the senior living community and chat in person? Take a moment to create a handwritten card and drop it in the mail. Ask family and friends to do the same. Seniors love receiving mail because this is how they have received correspondence for most of their lives, and cards are especially cherished and tangible, so they can read them over and over again.
Further, you can motivate your community to send cards to local retirement homes and nursing homes by making a post on social media. Everyone is in the holiday spirit around Christmas, so many people would love to drop a card in the mail for someone to make their day.
Additional Support for the Holidays
In addition to bringing the holiday spirit, there are a lot of ways that you can support seniors during the holiday season that help them physically, especially if they are still living on their own. Start early by preparing for winter so that you are not caught off guard when snow or ice keeps you (and them!) homebound.
- Help make their home more accessible incase they are snowed in
- Pack an emergency kit with extra blankets, batteries and chargers
- Prepare frozen meals or canned foods that are easily microwavable
- Keep in communication with your loved one – feeling loneliness and anxiety around the holidays is normal, but if you are unable to see seniors in person during a winter emergency or other such situation, keep in touch and contact them every day for a well-being check
As the holiday season approaches, let’s remember the warmth we can bring to the hearts of our senior citizens. By engaging in thoughtful and inclusive activities, we can create lasting memories that brighten their spirits and diminish loneliness.
Remember, the simplest gestures often carry the most profound impact. Whether it's sharing stories over a cup of hot cocoa, crafting holiday decorations together or enjoying seasonal music, the possibilities are endless. Let us include seniors in our activities, reminding them that they are cherished, valued and an integral part of our holiday celebrations.
Small acts of compassion can lead to significant transformations in seniors' emotional well-being. May the spirit of the season inspire us to create meaningful memories and make a profound difference in the lives of our loved ones.