When we consider the loneliness that seniors feel during the holiday season, we are usually thinking about the winter holidays. They are certainly lonely if they have lost loved ones or if their families live too far away to visit regularly. The weather, dreary skies and lack of sunshine adds to their depression. This is not just a wintertime problem, though.
Upcoming holidays including Easter and Passover prompt just as much loneliness and depression. Even though both holidays are typically celebrated by families and congregations, there are elderly people who live alone and who are not surround by family. They have reached an age when their numbers of friends have decreased, and their involvement in church or social groups has diminished.
What should you do to make certain that your elderly neighbors feel included in the upcoming holidays? What can you do to keep them from feeling isolated or from being overcome with depression?
Help them find a place to celebrate. The best thing to do would be to welcome them into your own home and family. If that isn’t possible, make sure they have transportation to a church or senior center that celebrates. They might see old friends, but better still, they might make new friends.
If your elderly friends are home-bound, take the party to them. Gather a couple of your friends, fill a picnic basket with a meal and visit as a group. Make this visit even better by using technology! Arrange a little FaceTime or Skype with their family members who are far away. They will be thrilled!
Children learn important lessons by making and sharing gifts with others. If you have little artists or little bakers in your family, help them create ‘friendship baskets’ filled with treats. You will create lots of smiles, when your little ones knock on the door of an elderly neighbor and present their gift.
According to the National Institute on Aging, depression is a common problem in the senior population, although it is not a normal part of aging. Depression can have a negative impact on other medical issues such as Diabetes or Cancer and visa versa. Depression frequently results in loss of sleep, and that contributes to even more problems including having little energy or being confused.
As Spring arrives and a long list of holidays emerges, take the initiative to spend extra time with elderly friends and neighbors. Think of things to share with them. Deliver a pot of plants, then help them tend to their little garden pot! Share freshly baked cookies, a loaf of homemade bread or a small casserole. Buy them something that you know they won’t buy themselves like a colorful magazine. We are all extra busy these days but sharing time with the elderly is always time well spent.
Debbie Moore, Regional Director of Business Development