7 Tips for Elderly People Who Are Alone for The Holidays

Here are some tips and tricks you can use to make this holiday season an enjoyable one.

With the holidays upon us, many elderly people will find themselves apart from their families. Whether it’s due to distance or extensive travel costs, the situation can often cause isolation and depression. However, there are several things you can do to stay connected to family during this holiday season. 


1. Use technology 

Dr Terry Fulmer, president of the John A. Hartford Foundation, suggests you schedule a time to speak with relatives over FaceTime, Skype or other video-enabled application. If needed, enlist the aid of a friend or neighbour who can help facilitate the use of the technology. 

2. Celebrate with others  

“You can choose to ignore the holiday and treat it like any other day, or you can celebrate with others,” said Kryss Shane, a licensed master social worker and expert in elder needs. “Many senior centres or community centres have parties you can attend.” 

3. Volunteer at an organisation you believe in 

Volunteer opportunities are endless. “Soup kitchens and homeless shelters can always use an extra hand,” said Joy Loverde, author of “Who Will Take Care of Me When I'm Old?” “Deliver meals. Cook a turkey and give it to someone in need of a meal. Visit a nursing home. Volunteer at an animal shelter or offer to dog sit so the owner can take the day off.” 

You can also contact your local hospital and ask what donations they need. 

“They may want small gifts for the kids in the long-term care area, allowing you to shop and wrap like everyone else, except you'd know that your gifts would mean the world to the recipient,” she said. 

4. Create video or audio holiday messages 

Buy a children’s book of bedtime stories. Record a video of you reading the stories out loud, Loverde suggested. Send the book to your grandchildren, and email the video file (Dropbox or another app) to the parents so everyone can follow along. 

Fulmer also recommended making special greeting cards or video/audio holiday messages to send to family members. 

5. Have an action plan 

Now might be a good time to take on a home project that you’ve been putting off. For example, you could take this opportunity to organise your scattered family photos into scrapbooks and photo albums to share with your loved ones. Or, if you want to shake things up a bit, consider hiring someone to come to your house and rearrange your furniture in a fresh new layout. 

Local businesses may need additional help around the holidays, too. If working is something you enjoy, consider taking on a seasonal job that works for your schedule and physical ability. Bonus: This is a great way to interact with others around the holiday season. 

6. Share a journal 

One family member buys a three-ring binder and starts the project. They create pages filled with content from their latest adventures -- poetry, drawings, photographs, anything that describes their current life. 

“The goal is to add several pages before passing the notebook on to the next family member,” Loverde said. “That person writes their story and then passes it on again.” 

During the holidays, the binder can be pulled out and the tales read. This is a warm and wonderful way for a family to come together and learn about each other’s lives. It’s also a great option for kids of all ages. 

7. Leave a legacy 

There’s a lot of talk these days about ethical wills, although the tradition began more than 700 years ago, when elders orally conveyed their values, advice, experiences and concerns to the next of kin. An ethical will is strictly personal, carrying no legal implications or instructions on the distribution of material wealth. From handwritten letters and do-it-yourself scrapbooks to videos and audio recordings, Loverde said ethical wills can help you accomplish the following, and much more… 

  • Explain what you accomplished and why it was important for you to do so 

  • Describe how you lived your life and why 

  • Provide in detail the life lessons you learned 

  • Express what you hope future generations will learn from you 

Implementing some of these tried-and-tested tactics can help make the holidays more enjoyable, even if you are apart from your precious loved ones. 

Read Next: How Your Housekeeper Can Help Make Your Christmas Stress-Free 

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