Many people feel isolated and unhappy around the holiday season. Even before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, many older adults already had to cope with change, such as neighborhoods change over time, decreased social interactions, decreased mobility and energy levels, and feelings of loss and isolation. Being attentive and supportive of our loved ones is essential, especially this time of year.
If you believe loved ones are suffering from depression or loneliness, there are various steps that you can take to help them feel better. Although you may be planning on celebrating the holidays with your immediate family, it’s important to remember that the season is about all the people in your life. By simplifying some of your activities, you can include the people most important to you, including those that may have difficulty getting around.
When you are together, help your loved one feel better by listening to them actively. Having an honest and open conversation can help them feel better, and it can also help them come to terms with their current situation. When speaking with them, remind your loved ones that they are still vital to you. They may feel frustrated if they can’t participate in the festivities they used to enjoy. Encourage them to do what they can, and make sure that nothing is an imposition to you. Ask friends and family members to send positive cards and notes, which always lift people’s spirits. For someone with a lot of free time on their hands, getting mail is a fun distraction.
If a senior is in a facility, you can check with the activities director to see if they can let children perform or visit with the residents. New interactions and activities with younger people can be uplifting for older adults suffering from emotional or physical pain. Pets can also be a source of socialization and entertainment. You can help your loved one decorate their home or room. Bring nostalgic items with you to decorate. Seniors enjoy looking through their old holiday decorations and discussing their favorite pieces.
If you can’t visit in person, you can still send a video or call them while they’re decking the halls. If they’re in a nursing home or assisted living facility, ensure they have something they can look forward to eating. Prepare traditional holiday treats or bake them something special. You can also decorate their dining room table with festive decorations and seasonal flavors.