While many families are anticipating weeks of madness in preparation for and celebration of the holidays, the season can be a different kind of dreadful for others. It can be the most isolating time of year for seniors and the elderly people who do not have family or community nearby.
Loneliness and isolation can lead to serious depression in elderly people – a potentially deadly condition. If you do not have a community that you can enjoy during the holidays, and your family is inaccessible this year, make an effort to engage and reduce the feeling of isolation this holiday season. Here are some ideas:
- Join in local events. Plenty of neighborhoods and communities have celebratory events and activities for the holiday season. You may need to have some mobility for this idea, but you should find out what’s happening near you, and attend anything that sounds fun and is open to the public.
- Give back. You’ve heard the adage, “It’s better to give than receive”, and nothing is truer this time of year. Trump any isolation by finding ways you can engage with the less privileged, either through a local church or community center.
- Reach out to your neighbors. Sometimes we just need to ask for the help that we need. If you have neighbors with a family, consider asking them if they would consider coming by for some hot chocolate and cookies on Christmas Day.
- Adopt an underprivileged family. Local food banks and homeless shelters will have information about underprivileged families who are struggling this time of year. Why not see if you can find a family that will share the day with you? If you’re unable to cook, you could bring the ingredients and keep the kids occupied while the parents cook Christmas dinner.
If you live in the U.K., you might not have to take initiative on this yourself. A Huffington Post reporter recently brought attention to Friends of the Elderly and Community Christmas, two non-profits in the U.K. who are mobilizing volunteers around the world to gift the gift of time to seniors in their community this year. Other local organizations may also be doing similar events – check with your local community center and nearby churches.
“We know that loneliness can have a devastating impact on older people’s lives, and those we work with tell us that becoming isolated from a community they were once part of can be especially difficult. That’s why we’re calling on individuals, organizations and businesses to put on Christmas Day activities to bring together older people in their community who don’t want to be alone,” said Steve Allen, Friends of the Elderly Chief Executive.
Efforts like these will help to reduce the feeling of isolation that many elderly people experience during this season. Last year, the Royal Voluntary Service estimated that 490,000 elderly people would spend Christmas 2014 alone – a number that is certain to increase year over year. Let’s work to reduce the number of people who are spending the holiday season in isolation.
Featured photo source: fote.org.uk