Most of us think of the holiday season as a time of joy, but for many seniors, the holidays aren’t filled with as much good cheer as they used to be. This nostalgic time of year can be especially tough for seniors, as they are reminded of their friends and family who have passed and holiday traditions they can no longer participate in. That’s why senior isolation disorder, loneliness, and depression are very common this time of year. But there are many ways to make the holidays merry for seniors. Here’s how you can help the seniors in your life avoid the holiday blues.
- Offer a ride
For seniors, no longer being able to drive doesn’t just make it difficult to get to appointments and run errands, but it also makes it hard to connect with friends and do activities they love. Lack of transportation is a large cause of social isolation for seniors. Ask your older loved ones if they would like a ride – to a social outing, Christmas shopping, or even just to the movies. Driving to visit an old friend or see holiday lights will really get them in the holiday spirit!
- Spend time with them
The best gift you can give to a senior this holiday season is your time and companionship. Planning a visit, inviting your senior loved one over for dinner or doing an activity together can really enhance their holiday season. If your loved one will be alone for an extended period of time, BookJane can help you arrange a certified caregiver to provide companionship over the holidays.
- Bring along the kids
Seeing the glowing faces of energetic kids can really brighten up the holidays for seniors. A transgenerational visit can be meaningful for the kids as well. Ask your older loved ones questions about their old childhood holiday traditions to spark a meaningful holiday visit. They’ll love taking a trip down memory lane, and you and the kids will get to engage with them on a deeper level.
- Adapt traditions
As our loved ones age and their senses diminish, our usual holiday traditions might too too much for them. All the sights, smells, sounds, visitors, activities, and foods of the season can become overwhelming. Tailor your holiday traditions to seniors by engaging their strongest senses. If they suffer from vision loss, take them to a holiday concert and sing carols, so they can hear the sounds of the season. If they have lost their hearing, bake gingerbread cookies with them to experience the holidays through smell and taste.
- Worthwhile gifts
If you plan on getting an older loved one a tangible gift this year, skip the slippers and opt for a gift that will bring them joy and help them curb depression. Technology, like a tablet or laptop, can help them stay in touch with friends and family. They could also use it to keep their brain sharp by taking online courses and learning new things. A pet or plant, if they are willing and capable of taking care of it, is also a great gift for seniors. Having something to nurture gives them a sense of purpose and is a great icebreaker.
- Volunteer together
The holiday season is all about giving back, which makes it the perfect time to volunteer with your senior loved ones. Volunteering has been shown reduce social isolation and loneliness in seniors and contribute to mental health and well-being. It’s incredibly rewarding, helps seniors contribute of the community, and it’s a great way to spend time with your senior loved one while doing good for others!
- Make celebrations simple
Think of ways to tone down your holiday traditions, so your senior loved ones can still be involved but don’t burn themselves out. If mom used to cook the whole family Christmas dinner, ask everyone to bring a dish to lessen the load. Make sure celebrations are at convenient times and locations for your senior guests. Perhaps it’s better to turn family dinner into family brunch if Dad gets tired early. Remember to leave lots of time for seniors to rest between holiday festivities.