Loneliness at the Holidays: 3 Tools for Seniors Living at HomeDecember 1, 2020
For many people, the holidays are a time for gathering with family and friends. Spending time with the families we’re born with and the families we chose is what helps us thrive during the cold and dark winter months. For the elderly, however, holidays can remind them of family members and friends lost over the years. And that their traditional holiday gatherings and holiday parties just aren’t the same as they were when they were younger.
Their own parents and grandparents gone, and now their children grown and moved away. Elderly people feel a deep sense of loss at the holidays. And for those who have downsized their living spaces, memories of their old home filled with laughter and a holiday traditions can also bring on sadness. As a result, many older adults can feel lonely during the holidays, which can lead to depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and even an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
A Serious Issue for Senior Care
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, more than 1 in 3 older Americans feel lonely, and more than a quarter of senior citizens are socially isolated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that social isolation and loneliness can have significant health effects including:
- Up to a 50% increase in risk for dementia
- Higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicide
- Increased risk of hospitalization and death from heart failure
The risks are clear. Living alone and being socially isolated can harm your health. But there are ways to cope with holiday loneliness. The following tools can help seniors maintain healthy connections and avoid the negative thoughts and impacts of isolation.
Elderly Care: Companion Care
Sometimes, it’s important to just have someone to talk to. One popular service that a home care agency can offer is companionship care. Through activities and other social interaction, a home care aide will provide meaningful companionship that seniors need. The benefits of companion care are immediate and can be extremely valuable. Simply having regular conversations can alleviate feelings of loneliness, and regular activities like playing games and puzzles can help improve cognitive function.
Elderly Care: Take Matters into Your Own Hands
The National Institute on Aging suggests a few ways to make and maintain connections including the following:
- Volunteer. Helping others can improve your outlook, and it’s likely you’ll meet new people as you do.
- Plan a new holiday celebration. Get together, either in person or virtually, with old friends or new ones. Exchange gifts or just share stories. Celebrating with people you know, but don’t normally celebrate with can be a gift unto itself.
- Adopt a pet. Pets can provide a sense of comfort, and can help with feelings of loneliness.
- Stay in touch. Many seniors don’t want to be a bother to their families, and don’t reach out to communicate as often as they’d like. But reaching out is almost always the right call. In fact, many times, families are also thinking they don’t want to intrude on their parent’s life, or be a bother to them either. If your family is busy, they can call back!
Elderly Care: 3 Helpful Resources
The National Council on Aging has developed a program that can help seniors in at-home care thrive in many aspects of their lives, including avoiding loneliness and social isolation. The self-directed version of the program allows seniors to work at their own pace in a number of areas including finance, well-being and social connection.
The AARP Foundation has developed tools to allow seniors who live at home to determine if they are socially isolated, and help them overcome loneliness. The program starts with an assessment of the level of risk of isolation, then directs users to tools that can help them overcome isolation.
A senior living at home who is experiencing loneliness and social isolation needs resources, and the Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness can help. A not-for-profit supported by some of the largest healthcare and transportation organizations in the country, the Coalition aims to highlight research about loneliness and social isolation, and it also provides advice for people who are socially isolated, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caring for the Elderly at Home with Home Care Powered by AUAF
This holiday season is likely to be more stressful than ever before, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic crash. Whether it’s getting paid to be a caregiver for your elderly relative or having a home care aide come to your home, Home Care Powered by AUAF has a solution that will meet you and your loved one’s needs. Call us at 773-274-9262 or Contact Us to learn more.
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