The holidays are a time for gathering with friends and family to celebrate a special time of year. It’s a time to escape our hectic lives and reconnect with those we may not see often throughout the year. For many of us that may include caring for aging parents, either on a regular basis, or simply trying to get them, and yourself, through the holiday season.
Loneliness and Mental Health for Seniors During the Holidays
Aging can often come with loneliness, which can lead to anxiety disorders, depression, and many other mental illnesses. For seniors, the holiday season can cause or exacerbate those disorders and may cause them to feel even more sad and isolated. There are a number of things we can do to support our aging family members during such a difficult season.
If you’re caring for aging family members, try to avoid travelling during the holidays and instead, have family members come to you. Holiday travel is stressful enough without putting our aging loved ones into unfamiliar surroundings with new sights and sounds. Instead, encourage healthy family members to come to you this year, making the more familiar setting easier for aging family members to adjust.
Maintain Tradition and Routine During the Holiday Season
Preparing for the holiday season certainly breaks routine for everyone, but it’s especially true for our aging family members. The stress of shopping, wrapping gifts, decorating, and meal planning can leave aging family members feeling overly stressed and overwhelmed. It’s helpful to maintain as much routine as possible, including medications, meal time, doctor appointments, and exercise. With this in mind, try keeping as much tradition alive, especially those that are particularly important to your loved one.
Alleviate Isolation for Aging Family Members During the Holidays
Because we’re all busier than ever during the holidays, aging family members can feel overlooked and unimportant during this time.
There are a number of things we can do to help prevent aging family members from feeling especially isolated during the holidays. Active listening can go a long way to alleviate feelings of isolation for someone who is struggling with loneliness. When possible, try to keep your aging family member involved by including them in decisions regarding meal planning, family events, or even picking out gifts for other family members. Looking at family photo albums, listening to their favorite music, or baking their favorite treat can help aging family members feel special. The bottom line is that our aging loved ones want what money can’t buy…the gift of time.