Things to consider this holiday season to combat loneliness in older adults

It’s October, and all over the United States we are getting ready to celebrate a wide variety of holidays derived from religious beliefs or popular culture, our lives get permeated by Shmini Atzeret, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, to name a few. Families’ daily rhythm gets altered, and the daily routine somehow seems to be out of whack, leaving us busier than ever and more exhausted than ever. It’s during times like this that we need to pay close attention to our relationships, stay aware of the needs of each family member to avoid loneliness, depression, isolation, and of course, older adults seem to be the most vulnerable as they don’t necessarily have an active role during the holidays.

An NCOA Blog, written by Danielle Fritze, gives us smart suggestions to manage this time of the year successfully.

“Loneliness is more than an emotional issue; it has real implications for physical and mental health. Recent research has shown that feeling lonely or being isolated affects mortality in a similar way to that of a smoking habit of 15 cigarettes per day and has more of an impact on mortality than other risk factors, like obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.

The good news is, loneliness doesn’t have to be an ongoing problem. Here are 4 tips to help combat loneliness and protect the mental health of an older loved one this holiday and beyond.

1. Make communication a priority

Some older adults go days without speaking to anyone at all, especially those who are in poor health or who have limited mobility or transportation options. Nothing beats an in-person visit, but if you can’t see each other around the holidays, talking on the phone—or video chatting with Skype or Facetime if everyone has the technology—can make a world of difference.

2. Encourage and facilitate social activities through local organizations

Places of faith, like churches, temples, and mosques, are an excellent place for individuals of all ages to meet like-minded people and find opportunities for group activities. If your older loved one isn’t religious, consider activities available through a local senior center. Offer to join them on their first trip to any new places to reduce anxiety and apprehension.

3. Explore hobbies and other areas of interest

Figure out what the older adult in your life likes to do to relax or as a hobby (this is also a great way to get gift ideas). If they don’t currently have any hobbies, ask if there is one, they used to have or something new they would like to try. The odds are that other people share that interest, and there are opportunities for socializing around it.

4. Identify opportunities to combat loneliness at any time

For those times between visits, calls, organizational activities, and hobbies, when loneliness can strike, determine some options that your older loved one can take advantage of at any time of day. “

 

Assisted living communities are a great option to help combat loneliness during the holidays and beyond. At Residential Plaza, we have an ongoing commitment to provide opportunities for our residents to stay socially engaged by putting together a robust calendar of activities and Community Education Program; Residential Plaza also encourages its residents to share their talents with their fellow residents by being volunteers of many classes and clubs. Especially during the holiday season, Residential Plaza gets residents involved in special programs and outings that met their interests, religious beliefs, and desires. For more information on Residential Plaza’s assisted living community visit: www.residentialplaza.com 

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