If you have a loved one living in a Baldwin House Senior Living apartment, they have access to many planned holiday activities that help keep them entertained and engaged. What your loved one really wants this holiday season is a visit or phone call from a family member. We have ways to help combat senior loneliness at the holidays because we know that holidays can seem more lonely for a senior.

Whether you have a loved one living in Baldwin House Senior Living if your aging loved one is living alone or if there is a neighbor who is alone the holidays may be difficult for them. Seniors, especially those whose loved ones have passed have fond memories of holidays past, but those are also mixed with a yearning for days gone by and for visits from friends and loved ones.

Many seniors, during the holidays, experience grief and loss, may feel disconnected and depressed and if there are physical changes that don’t allow them the mobility they once have, frustration sets in. Challenges that limit your loved ones’ ability to be involved in or contribute as fully to holiday traditions can lead to a feeling of loss of independence and of not being needed.

Ways to Combat Senior Loneliness During the Holidays

The CDC has linked many long-term health problems to social isolation and loneliness. Those include:

  1. Stroke
  2. Cognitive decline
  3. Early mortality
  4. Heart disease
  5. And others

Another heart-wrenching statistic that faces our seniors is that “almost one-third of seniors 65 or older live alone.” (from a US Census Bureau study). We urge you to take time, during the holidays and throughout the year, to consider the older adults in your life and if you suspect they are dealing with isolation and loneliness, we have tips to help brighten their day, their week and their holidays.

You don’t have to even do much. A simple phone call or a quick visit and food or treat delivery will go a long way in helping your loved one feel connected.

Here are some tips from Baldwin House Senior Living on how you can help reduce loneliness for the older adults in your life.

  1. Just listen. Sometimes all your loved one wants to do is have someone to listen. This is especially true if they live alone. Yes, you may have heard the same family story a dozen times, but listen with an open heart and respond so they know you’re really paying attention – that means a lot.
  2. Ask what they might like. Offering emotional support could include helping them participate in a family holiday tradition, write and send holiday cards, go to church, decorate a tree or bake cookies.
  3. Take the initiative. Your aging loved one may not want to “feel like a burden” and if you ask, “how can I help?” they might say they are “all right” and that you “don’t have to bother.” Please do “bother.” You know what your loved one cherishes and misses, give that to them. It could be a simple as cleaning the house, delivering a Friday night fish fry, going for a Sunday drive. Don’t wait for them to ask for help or for an outing because they probably won’t.
  4. Make them feel like they matter and are important. Loneliness at the holidays grows deeper for many older adults especially if they feel isolated from you and your family. Remind them how important they are to you and to all the family holiday traditions and get them as involved as they want to be or physically can be.
  5. Reach out to other family members and ask them to send your aging loved one holiday cards and letters. There is nothing that makes someone feel more connected than receiving mail because it lets the recipient know the sender was thinking of them enough to take the time to send them a card.
  6. Carry on family traditions. If mom or dad loved fruitcakes, make sure you have one. If there was always a brightly decorated tree and tinsel and lights hung around the house, decorate their apartment at Baldwin House Senior Living. Traditions show your aging loved ones that you care and that you appreciated the time they put into making holidays sparkle when you were younger.

“Adopt” a senior from a local senior care facility. Call the facility and ask if there is a senior who has no family and no visitors and ask if you could “adopt” them for the holidays and send them a Christmas card or a few small, low-cost gifts or holiday decorations to brighten their day. These small acts of kindness can also be extended to anyone in your neighborhood who may live alone. Holidays are typically fraught with loneliness and if you can take a few small steps to make the holidays brighter, imagine how much brighter your holiday will feel!