10 Ways to Avoid Senior Isolation This Holiday Season
Learn why senior isolation is so tough this time of year and how you can fight against it
The holidays can be magical and filled with joy when you’re surrounded by family and friends. But this season can also magnify feelings of loneliness if you’re facing senior isolation.
Unfortunately, senior isolation is very common — and harmful. About 18 percent of adults age 65 and older live alone, and 43 percent report feeling lonely on a regular basis. Senior isolation can increase the risk of high blood pressure, malnutrition, and the inability to physically care for yourself. Seniors who are isolated are more likely to develop dementia and are more vulnerable to elder abuse. A study by the University of California, San Francisco found senior isolation leads to a higher risk of mortality in adults older than 52 years old.
These alarming stats highlight why it’s important to combat senior isolation and make an effort to connect with others, especially during the holidays.
Why senior isolation is common during the holidays
Seniors are at a higher risk of being isolated during the holidays for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Children are grown and may be celebrating with their own families.
- Spouses who once inspired holiday cheer may have passed away.
- Decreased mobility makes it more difficult to participate in holiday shopping and social activities.
The holidays also spark reminiscing, which can lead to comparisons between past years’ celebrations and now. But even though you might not be able to enjoy the traditions you once practiced, you can create new ones that add holiday cheer to your life today.
10 ways to battle senior isolation during the holidays
Thankfully, you can combat senior isolation. You just need ways to connect with others. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Don’t wait on others to make plans.
Reach out to your family, friends, neighbors, or community members with an invitation to spend time together this holiday season.
2. Make plans that work for you.
Tailor your activities to your stage of life. If you’re in an assisted living facility, invite your hall neighbors to your room for a holiday movie or gather everyone together in the common room for carols around the piano.
3. Embrace the holidays with decorations.
Put up a small tree. Hang a few lights or garland on the wall. Holiday decor adds cheer and encourages you to open your home to others.
4. Get in touch with your grandkids.
There’s nothing quite like engaging with youth to get your brain going. Host a game night at your home and teach the grandkids a few of your favorites.
5. Ask your kids for a ride.
Don’t be shy about requesting transportation to the mall for people watching, a local restaurant for a holiday meal, or to your children’s homes for a gift-wrapping session. What matters is spending time together.
6. Offer your skills to help others.
Do you love to bake, knit, or wrap gifts? Find a local organization and ask how you can join as a volunteer this holiday season.
7. Go for a walk.
Exercise is a wonderful way to ward off the holiday blues, especially in the company of others. Go for a daily group walk down the hall or through your neighborhood and chat along the way.
8. See a classic holiday play.
There’s something about sitting among an audience that can make you instantly feel part of something. Look for local performances of holiday classics.
9. Get your hearing and vision checked.
Living with untreated hearing and vision problems can make it difficult to communicate and could lead you to avoid social situations. Hearing aids and glasses may be the only barriers between you and holiday festivities.
10. Make time for play.
Sing carols and laugh at your grandkids’ antics. Don’t be afraid to be silly and let loose in the company of others. Be yourself. After all, that’s why everyone loves you.
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