AGING IN PLACE: Helping seniors enjoy the holiday season

The holidays bring lots of joy and happy memories, but they can also bring stress and sadness for our seniors citizens
Including older family members in cooking and decorating, and encouraging them to remember happy holiday memories can help make the holiday season brighter
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 6:24 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -The holidays can bring sadness to people of any age, especially if you’ve lost loved ones. But the holiday season can be especially tough for our older family members.

Beckie Spaid with Care Advantage stopped by our WDBJ7 studios on WZBJ24 to talk about some of the challenges the season can bring seniors:

--Limited mobility: Many seniors cannot move around as they once did, especially with physical limitations. This can make the holiday season less exciting for seniors, with the inability to shop, visit, and celebrate like others limiting the joy of the season.

--Loneliness and depression: Depression, anxiety, and isolation are common among seniors, but the holiday season can make these feelings more severe. Whether it’s a lack of social interaction, missing family and friends, or remembering what once was, the holidays can make some seniors feel more lonely than any other time of year.

--Memories of the past: Many seniors have a hard time accepting that their current life is not like it was in the past.

--Financial burden: The holidays can get expensive.

But Spaid says there are some things family members can do to make the season brighter for their older loved ones:

--Make holiday rituals intergenerational: Encourage your children, grandchildren and aging loved ones to bake treats, look at pictures, sing Christmas carols or partake in holiday crafts together.

--Decorate together: Use your elders’ treasured holiday decorations. Talk about each piece as you pull it out of storage.

--Assist with holiday greetings: Ask if they need help writing and sending Christmas cards or holiday letters. You’re also helping them stay connected with other family and friends, which becomes more challenging with age.

--Be supportive: Be on the lookout for cards, phone calls and other correspondence they receive during the holidays. Often, the news they contain is not pleasant. For example, someone’s spouse has died or a friend is very ill. Keep an eye out for signs of depression and be sure to offer support if there’s anything weighing on their mind.

--Reminisce: Encourage your elders to tell stories of the past. There is something about passing on memories during the holidays that really brings families together.