The holiday season triggers different emotions for everyone; these tips will help keep seniors smiling.
The holiday season is associated with celebration, but Christmastime can be a very difficult season for seniors. Two statistics shed light as to why.
- The American Medical Resource Institute reports that six million people over the age of 65 suffer from depression, many of which do not seek treatment.
- According to Daily Caring, around 28 percent of seniors in the United States live alone.
Feelings of loneliness and depression can be heightened during the holiday season, when memories of times with cherished loved ones – many of whom may have passed away – come flooding back.
Whether a senior in your life is in an independent or assisted living community like Lake Gibson Village, living alone or with family, the key is inclusion.
There are many reasons a senior may no longer be able to “deck the halls” like they once did. Physical ability and a smaller living space are chiefly responsible. For those in senior living, residents can help with decorating around their community. For those living on their own, a younger relative can offer to help decorate the inside and outside of a senior’s home.
Another great idea is to tour your city, looking for the best decorations. Most downtown areas are nice settings, and there are websites and Facebook pages devoted to neighborhoods that boast the best displays. Here is a good website for Lakeland and the surrounding areas.
Baking & Holiday Meals
Many holiday bonds and traditions come from food. Encourage seniors to make cookies or a special dish that they enjoyed in the past. Even if they cannot physically make the food, coming up with ways to help (or even just making the dish from their recipe) will create a sense of inclusion and belonging.
If you’re hosting the family holiday get-together, remember to extend an invitation to your relatives who may live alone and have nowhere to go. Residents in senior living communities can enjoy holiday meals with friends, but those living in a house may be isolated or not be able to drive, so follow-up your invitation with an offer of transportation to and from the family gathering.
Reminiscing & Keeping in Touch
Make time for the seniors in your life to share their holiday stories and traditions. Going through family photo albums is a good way to spark memories and lift spirits. Additionally, encourage (and help, if needed) seniors to write cards to lifelong friends. In addition to keeping active, sending cards to friends and distant relatives can lead to regular communication and can reduce feelings of loneliness.
At Lake Gibson Village, our activities calendar is stocked with holiday happenings in each of these categories to help keep residents active during what can be a stressful season. We also host a holiday party for residents, and several musical acts fill our historical theatre with the sounds of the season.
Keeping seniors involved in the present, while acknowledging their past, can make for a pleasant holiday season for all.