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7 Ways Seniors Can Alleviate Their Loneliness During the Holidays

Erin Jay
March 12, 2018

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

Image via Stocksy.com/Katarina Radovic

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


Use Technology

Dr. Terry Fulmer, president of the John A. Hartford Foundation, a New York City-based organization dedicated to improving the care of older adults, suggests you schedule a time to speak with relatives over FaceTime, Skype, or other video-enabled application. Try to enlist the aid of a friend or neighbor who can help facilitate the use of the technology, if needed.


Celebrate With Other Seniors

“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 centers or community centers have parties you can attend.”

Fulmer also recommends exploring local senior centers, churches, and Area Agencies on Aging for holiday events you might attend.


Volunteer at an Organization You Believe In

Volunteer opportunities are endless.

“Soup kitchens and homeless shelters can always use an extra hand,” said Joy Loverde, author ofWho 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.”

Shane suggests that you 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.


Create Video or Audio Holiday Messages

Buy a children’s book of bedtime stories. Create a video of you reading the stories out loud, Loverde suggested. Send the book via USPS to your grandchildren, and email the video file (Dropbox or other 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.


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 organize all of 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 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 also a great way to interact with others around the holiday season.


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.


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-true tactics can help make the holidays more enjoyable , even if you are apart from your precious loved ones.

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