As we enter the month leading up to Christmas I am reminded that there are so many people, not just seniors who are without family or a support group. Christmas for many is a time of loneliness and even depression for some.
There is the pressure to be happy, the expense of buying gifts and extra food, the sadness from the loss of loved ones or even the loss of one’s health, and memories of days gone by. We can do our part in brightening the life of someone experiencing this darkness during a time when there is so much light.
- Carve out time in your busy schedule to spend time with a senior to listen to their stories about days gone by. There is wisdom in those words that we sometimes miss because we aren’t fully present.
- Encourage activity. It can stimulate the “feel good” hormones, improve sleep, gets the blood flowing and can stimulate appetite. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous. Take a senior friend or loved one to the mall for a walk, a change in routine and scenery is often all it takes to chase the blues away. An evening drive to see the Christmas lights can brighten anyone’s spirits. It’s my favorite thing to do during the holiday season!
- Find events or programs that your friend or loved one would be interested in attending and share that time with them.
- Try to help them keep their Christmas traditions such as sending cards or decorating their homes. For some people this brings great joy this time of year. My Mother has had her apartment decorated since the first of November – whatever makes her happy!
Even if you don’t have a senior friend or loved one in your circle, visit a seniors centre or hospital. As hard as it is to believe, short of a home care agency personal support worker appointment, many elderly folks don’t have regular visitors. Participate in a Christmas gift program at the local seniors centre or hospital.
The hospital near my home encourages the giving of gifts to seniors who are laid up and don’t have family to visit them. It’s nice for them to know they are thought of. Some organizations also do Senior Santa gifts where you pick a name and there is a wish list attached. What great fun shopping knowing how much joy that gift will bring someone and for them to know they are thought of by a perfect stranger. Every year I am sure to get on these gift lists. This year a lady named Viola will be the recipient of my gifts of chocolates, hand lotion and a hat, gloves and scarf (as per her request)!
As a caregiver, adult child, spouse or friend of an elder, we have an opportunity this Christmas Season to recognize loneliness and do something about it. It’s easy to ignore when it doesn’t affect you directly, but by being sensitive to someone else you’ll receive your own holiday gift of great value!