As adults age, they may be beleaguered by feelings of discouragement and even depression throughout the year but especially during the holiday season. When Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, seniors notice the all-too-obvious changes that have occurred over the years, such as the inevitable illnesses and deaths of their friends and family, the lack of invitations to holiday celebrations and the loneliness that may set in as their lives slow down and visits from loved one’s decrease. Finding ways to navigate these emotional, physical and social losses can bring back the joy into this festive season.
- First, seniors could find someone to provide them with companionship. The best option is to find a family member who has some extra time over the holidays. Often, grandchildren love to listen to stories of the old days and love to learn how their grandparents used to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. Seniors who do not have family nearby may be able to find a companion at their assisted living facilities, nursing homes or local churches who would be willing to spend a few hours with them every week.
- Second, seniors can stay in touch with family and friends across the miles with holiday cards and telephone calls. Holiday cards show seniors how many family and friends think about them every year and keep them up-to-date with their loved ones’ lives.
- Third, seniors could look for ways to volunteer. Many times, the best way to be happy is to give rather than to receive. Options for active adults include volunteering at a soup kitchen or food shelf, volunteering at church or volunteering in a school. Seniors who are less active may be able to interact with schoolchildren who visit nursing facilities or carol at assisted living homes.
- Fourth, seniors should seek to maintain their holiday traditions as much as they are able. While they may not have as many parties to attend as they once did, putting up the Christmas tree, baking cookies and enjoying hot chocolate in front of the fireplace can stir up feelings of contentment and joy.
Seniors who struggle with the holiday blues should not be afraid to share their concerns with loved ones or with their doctors. The feelings are very real and may require treatment in some cases. In addition, acknowledging these concerns can actually help seniors feel better.