Caregiver Tips to Ease Holiday Loneliness in Seniors
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 40 percent of senior citizens report feeling lonely during the holiday season. Understanding how to care for and support your aging loved one when the “holiday blues” set in can help reduce their feelings of loneliness and depression. Easing holiday loneliness in seniors can also help deepen the connection between the two of you and bring you closer together, which is a gift you both can enjoy long after the holidays have ended!
Ease Holiday Loneliness: What to do
Include elderly loved ones in meal planning. The holiday season is full of celebrations and family meals. Be sure to get your aging loved one involved in the planning, whether it’s choosing the menu items, setting the table, or baking and cooking, if they are able to do so. Including seniors in your holiday preparations makes them feel needed and gets them excited about the upcoming event. You may even want to include a special family recipe or your elderly loved one’s favorite food or dessert in your holiday meal.
Get “done up” for the occasion. For holiday events, or for a special gift, treat your elderly family member to a fun spa day, either at a nearly business or in the comfort of home. Your loved one can have their finger and toe nails painted holiday colors, get their hair and makeup done, have ear, nose and beard hairs trimmed up, and put on their favorite festive attire. If your loved one doesn’t get to leave their house or socialize often, this can do wonders to lift their spirits and ease holiday loneliness in seniors.
Reminisce with photos. During the holidays, caregivers are encouraged to spend time looking at photos of past holidays with aging loved ones. Together you can reflect on the happy times and share special memories of your relatives or family traditions. If there are photos that bring tears or grief to your loved one, that’s ok, too. It can be a healthy way of releasing feelings that may have been adding to their depression.
Participate in a ‘life review’. This is often used by registered nurses to help elderly patients reflect on their lives and find purpose, meaning, and peace. You, your aging loved one, and other family members can all participate in a life review. Gather everyone together and go around the room, giving each person the option to answer questions like, “What life accomplishments are you most proud of?” or “What is your favorite holiday memory?” For seniors with dementia or other memory changes, make the questions less about specific people or events and more about what they think or feel.
Enjoy the moment. No matter what, family caregivers are encouraged to be present with their elderly loved one and not worry about their age, declining health, or memory changes. This is the perfect time to be patient and just enjoy your loved one, exactly how they are right now. Do your best to keep your anxiety from distracting you from your time together and focus on creating as many wonderful holiday memories as possible.
If your senior loved one is struggling with loneliness, Grand Oaks of Okeechobee is the perfect place for them to live. Our residents and staff are friendly, active, and happy to help a new Grand Oaks family member transition to their new home! Stop by for a complimentary tour or call 863-692-7222 today.