How to Reduce Loneliness in Seniors During the Holiday Season

November is almost over, Thanksgiving is past, and we’re deep into holiday season now. From the chilly weather to the holiday decorations, you can feel the excitement of the holidays drawing near.

Unfortunately, many seniors in assisted living communities and other long-term care facilities feel lonelier than ever at this time of year. Precisely during the holiday season, when families come together in celebration, love, and goodwill, nursing home residents may feel unhappy and isolated.

Aging brings many changes with it—some good, and some sad. Anyone who has reached old age has inevitably lost a few loved ones, be they parents, siblings, a spouse, or close friends. The holidays become a time to reflect on the people you lost that year, and mourn them all over again.

To add to many seniors’ feelings of grief and sadness, they are often dealing with mobility issues and health concerns that stop them from getting out and enjoying the holidays as they’d want to. And on top of that, they feel like a burden to their adult children who are busy preparing for the holiday season and may not have as much time for them.

Don’t let your elderly loved one go through the holidays depressed.

If you have a senior in your life who might be feeling sad this holiday season, here are some ways you can help:

  • Remind your loved one how much they mean to you, and how thankful you are that they’re in your life. Don’t relate to them out of a sense of duty; show them how much you care about them.
  • Send a cheery holiday card with a warm, personal note. Keep in mind that they’ve been getting fewer and fewer cards over the years, as their circle of friends and acquaintances pass on. You may want to send multiple cards, or have friends and relatives send their own notes, cards, or letters to keep the flow of good wishes coming all season.
  • Help your loved one decorate their home or room at their long-term care facility. Bear proper safety in mind, avoiding electrical string lights, candles, and other hazards.
  • Bring their favorite holiday treats to the facility for your loved ones to enjoy and pass around to their friends and caregivers.
  • Find out if the facility is hosting a holiday party, and make sure to attend with your family. You may also want to bring your loved one home for a family dinner, if possible.
  • Just listen. Sometimes all your loved one wants is a family member’s listening ear when they’re feeling down. They may just want to talk about Christmases past, or how scared they are to face their first holiday season without their spouse. That’s okay. Just listening is the most important way you can show you love them.