Combat Elder Loneliness for the Holidays

By November 12, 2014Aging in Place, Caregiver Tips

Caregivers do an awesome job of taking care of seniors across the country; however, this does not include the meaningful conversation and or social interaction that they not only desire, but require. There are many tasks that must be accomplished and responsibilities that must be attended to which leaves little time to actually socialize. The elderly are often lonely and this loneliness dramatically increases during the holiday season. There are several things which caregivers can do to help combat this holiday loneliness.

Simply Listen
One way that caregivers can connect with the elderly on a deep and meaningful level is to listen to them. They have entire libraries of valuable knowledge they have stored in memory from years and experiences past. This exchange is especially meaningful for those caring for their family members. Most all elders wish to pass their knowledge down to younger family members. It gives them a feeling of self-worth while providing a wonderful bonding experience to both members of the relationship. It also adds balance to the caregiver/patient and/or parent/child relationship of these situations.

It is important to observe how the younger generation interacts with the oldest. For example, how do the elder and the grandchildren relate and communicate. Try to help them bridge this gap. Sharing stories with grandchildren is an extremely effective way for elders to combat loneliness, especially around the holidays. The young ones benefit from this exchange as well. There is a great deal of useful knowledge which they may glean from their elders. Psychological studies have shown that these types of interactions also slow the decline of cognitive abilities in seniors.

Cards and Correspondence
The elderly once lived during a time when USPS correspondence was the norm. Today most everyone sends emails and virtual greeting cards. Many times when seniors do receive mail it is to inform them of an illness or death of someone close. It is important to be present when elders open their mail as well as write replies to each piece. Many seniors truly enjoy filling out cards to wish family and friends happiness for the holidays. Try helping them choose and send greeting cards for this Yule season. Another tip is to ask their family and friends to send them greeting card through the postal mail. Many of the individuals from this generation have no interest at all in the internet and electronic email.

Holiday Bashes at Facilities
An idea for those caring for the elderly within facilities is to consider throwing a Yule ball or bash and have them help with the decorations. Most everyone will have something that they can contribute and be delighted to do so. Have a pre-party meeting were all can gather to make colorful craft decorations. There are tons of holiday recipes that may be found on the internet. Many of these are not only nutritious and suitable for those who may be on special diets, but are delicious. Have the elders create the guest list and invitations. Make sure a lot of people are invited in cases some cannot make it due to prior engagements. Try searching the internet and downloading Christmas Oldies from times past for everyone to dance to. Perhaps some of the seniors may like to teach the younger generation how they boogied at Christmas.

Image Credit – http://www.rightathomeuk.co.uk/assets/franchises/corporate/Gent_and_Carer.jpg

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