Forty-three percent of seniors report feeling lonely on a regular basis, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While the holiday season is supposed to be merry and bright, many older adults may feel increasingly sad and isolated this time of year. The holidays can often highlight the inevitable yet disheartening losses seniors face, such as changes in their health and community or the passing of friends or family members.
For family caregivers, managing the health issues and care needs of older loved ones – on top of other family, work and holiday obligations – can also be challenging. Finding ways to keep seniors active and connected can not only combat feelings of loneliness but also helps alleviate stress for caregivers during this often-overwhelming season. Here are fun and simple ideas to help keep seniors engaged and promote a happy, healthy holiday season for the entire family.
Even if you can’t be together in person during the holidays, a phone call or video chat can lift spirits and brighten a loved one’s day. For family members who are spending the holidays apart, encourage reaching out to friends via social media, phone or video calls to help stay socially engaged. You can even schedule a family video call to celebrate the holidays together from afar. For those with dementia, a card or personal letter is particularly meaningful and is a gift that keeps on giving as your loved one can look back at it again and again.
Share a meal
Seniors in the U.S. who eat most of their meals alone are more than twice as likely to experience loneliness than those who eat most of their meals with others. Sharing a meal with family and friends can be a powerful form of connection with meaningful benefits for your elder loved one’s health. Family meals provide a special opportunity for everyone to come together and form lasting memories, whether it be cooking your loved one’s favorite meal, passing down old recipes to younger family members or exchanging stories at the table.
Set a festive mood
If your loved one is feeling less than joyful this season, consider a traditional remedy. Visit with them and reminisce on old times by doing holiday activities you usually do together. Play holiday music, bake cookies, watch your favorite movies, decorate the house or flip through photo albums and share your favorite memories. Small moments like these can help ensure your loved one’s holiday is full of warmth, comfort and companionship.
Practice active listening
One of the most important things you can do to support your loved one is to lend a listening ear, especially during the holidays when emotions may be heightened. Check in with them to see how they’re doing and let them share memories, stories and their wishes or concerns for the future. Be open and empathetic, honor their feelings and express how much they mean to you whenever you can. If you have a loved one with a condition that can make communication challenging, such as Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, take some steps to help facilitate meaningful and enjoyable conversations.
Enlist professional support
Charter’s home care specialists are trained to care for the needs of aging seniors, keeping patients safe and comfortable at home while allowing them to safely participate in special family traditions and holiday festivities.These professional caregivers can assist you and your loved one with daily activities throughout the winter season, including housekeeping, grooming, meal preparation and other important tasks. Make the most of the holidays – for you and your loved one – by calling us at (909) 644-4965 and requesting the help of a Charter caregiver today. To learn more about the different types of home-based care, visit our website.