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Tips to Reduce Loneliness During the Holidays

The holidays are often a difficult time for older adults, especially shut-ins.  For many, family members have grown up and moved away and often are too busy or don’t have the funds to travel for the holidays.  Add to that, thoughts of loved ones who have passed away, mix in a bit of seasonal affective disorder and you have a recipe for depression. 

Pam Marra, staff writer for Theet.com, offers the following very practical tips to help reduce the loneliness that many of our older adults feel at this time of year.  

  • Spend time with them. Look at holiday photos or videos with them, and leave them photos to view when they’re alone. Let them reminisce. 
  • Listen and understand when they want to talk, even if the talk is negative. 
  • Help them focus on the good things present in their lives rather than their losses. 
  • Holiday cards often bring bad news, and decrease in quantity. Help them write their own cards to keep a connection with life-long friends. 
  • If a parent is in an assisted living facility or nursing home, check with the local kindergarten or day care centers to see if they can bring children to visit.
  • Check with parents’ churches or spiritual facilities. Visitors, such as those in the Stephen Ministries, a program many Christian churches offer, can visit people at home or in a facility.
  • Decorate their home or room in stages, presenting cherished ornaments at intervals so there is something to look forward to. 
  • Bring traditional baked goods or treats regularly for them and their friends to share. 
  • Call their friends and see if they can come to a small gathering or party. 
  • Make their dinner table special. Whether at home or in a facility, try to make the table festive with some appropriate colors and themes. 
  • Remind them how important they are. They may feel useless and burdensome. Make them feel loved. 


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