Helping Seniors Navigate Loneliness During the Holidays

Seniors Helping Seniors® 26 Dec 2023

If you or someone you love is dealing with a mental health crisis or thoughts of self-harm, please contact SAMHSA’s Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988 on your phone. You can also chat with them here if that’s easier for you.

The holidays are festive, all about gatherings, celebrations, and spending time with friends and family. The holidays are merry and bright, filled with cheer and goodwill. The holidays can feel lonely and isolating, particularly for folks in their golden years still living independently. Helping seniors navigate loneliness during the holidays is essential to their well-being, not just at this time of the year but all year long. With that in mind, we’d like to offer some tips to help you (or the seniors in your life) navigate the many feelings that can arise at this time of the year.

To start, let’s all acknowledge our feelings, whatever they might be. Some of us are feeling festive, happy, and full of the holiday spirit–and that’s wonderful. Some of us may not be; instead, we may be feeling lonely, isolated, or just in a bad mood. Whatever we’re feeling, acknowledging it and addressing it directly is the first step in dealing with it. If someone close to you–senior or otherwise–is dealing with loneliness or other negative feelings during the holidays, acknowledge those feelings directly, recognize them as genuine and valid, and then start making suggestions as to how to best deal with them.

Let’s address another issue in maintaining good moods and helping to mitigate bad ones: the holidays make it easy to overindulge in alcohol or other recreational chemicals, and while that’s neither good nor bad on its own it’s not great for our moods. Alcohol is a depressant, and a few drinks may seem like a cheerful holiday celebration but they can cause feelings of depression or isolation. Sparkling cider, tea, and coffee, or just water can be healthier, happier ways to celebrate while keeping our heads and hearts clear.

Staying active is also a way of lifting our spirits and avoiding holiday loneliness and depression. This can be as simple as a walk in the park with a friend, a workout at the gym, or getting together with other folks for a volunteer activity of some sort. Being active to whatever degree our physical health allows and being around others is a great way to navigate loneliness during the holiday season, so make sure you or your seniors stay engaged and in motion.

Staying connected and involved is important at any time of the year, but especially during the holidays. There’s so much pressure to be cheerful that it can make feelings of loneliness worse for many people. With that in mind, make sure that both you and the seniors in your life feel welcome, included, and involved with the events of the season. It can take many forms–some folks don’t like big gatherings but would love a daily visit for conversation and companionship. Others might want to be involved with every inch of holiday cheer available. Everyone’s different, so communicate your needs clearly and ask others what they would prefer as we all enjoy the holidays.

The holidays can be a time of contrasts–joyful and lonely, full of fellowship and yet isolating. Seniors (and others) might need some help dealing with those feelings at this time, and we hope this guide to helping them navigate feelings of loneliness during the holidays helps a bit. Year-round, Seniors Helping Seniors Nevada works to connect seniors who need help and companionship with those who want to stay active via volunteering. If either of those would be helpful to you, please get in touch today.

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