Reducing Loneliness in Elders Around the Holidays

What do you think of when you think about the holidays?  Most of us think of good times with family and friends, parties, great food, lots of fun and general happiness. Rarely does the word holiday conjure up visions of loneliness and depression.  But, for many of our elders, that’s exactly what it means.

Aging comes with losses of spouses and other relatives and close friends. Familiar neighborhoods tend to change, leaving the aging family member feeling friendless and isolated. The holidays bring to a head all of these changes and the emotions that go along with them.

Adult children of aging parents can help reduce this depression by doing some simple things.

  1. Be a good listener. Hear them out, and offer empathy.
  2. Make sure you tell them how important they are to you and the rest of the family. Remind them of how much everyone loves them.
  3. Be with your parent(s) when they open their holiday cards. Often, these cards bring news of deaths or illnesses. If you are there, you might be able to head off feelings of depression.
  4. Simplify the holidays, and make sure that they know you are doing that in order to bring back the real meaning of the celebration.
  5. For parents who are in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, check with the local kindergarten or day care centers to see if they have a program bringing the children to visit elders.
  6. Decorate their home or room in stages, bringing a decoration or menorah at each visit so that they always have something to look forward to. In the probable case of the facility not permitting flames in the room, get an electric menorah, and just use the family heirloom menorah for decoration without the candles.
  7. Bring your family’s traditional foods for your elder relatives to share with their friends in the nursing home or assisted living facility.
  8. Play music, and listen to them reminisce.
  9. Most important, spend time with them! Look at holiday pictures and leave the photos behind for their continued enjoyment. Your time is the most important gift that you can give to your elders during the holiday season.

For more help or suggestions on how to head off the loneliness of an elder member of the family, call us at Kabb Law: 216-991-KABB (5222).