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How to Help Seniors Fight Loneliness During the Holidays

BRIGHTEN THE HOLIDAYS FOR YOUR SENIOR

Loneliness is often experienced by seniors during the holiday season. There are ways to brighten the season for lonely and depressed seniors.

The holiday season can exacerbate seniors’ feelings of loneliness. This can cause health problems and affect their quality of life.

Persistent loneliness can have the same health impact as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Since loneliness can exacerbate health issues and increase the risk of mortality, it is especially important to combat isolation and feelings of loneliness during the holidays. (Forbes)

 

Spot the Signs of Loneliness

Many seniors do not recognize their loneliness or the health problems that feeling lonely can cause. As a result, few will voice their need for additional support. Look for these signs of loneliness among seniors:

  • Under or oversleeping
  • Withdrawal from existing relationships
  • Combativeness or moodiness
  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Anxiety over change or visitors leaving
  • Lack of interest in normal passions
  • Decreased attention to self-care

Health Risks of Loneliness

Loneliness can increase seniors’ risk of:

High blood pressure

Depression

Low immune health

Obesity

Mortality

BRIGHTEN THE HOLIDAYS FOR YOUR SENIOR

Brighten your holidaysHow to Brighten the Holidays

During the holidays, many seniors feel particularly lonesome. Nostalgia, memories of lost loved ones, and distance from family can all contribute to the holiday blues. Add cheer to seasonal loneliness with strategies like these:

  • Display holiday cards and greetings
  • Set up decorations with seniors
  • Help seniors make video calls to loved ones
  • Plan holiday event outings
  • Tune in to festive TV shows and regular radio programs
  • Sign seniors up for in-house visits by carolers or other holiday volunteers
  • Encourage seasonal volunteering if seniors are able

elder careDid You Know?

17% of Americans over 65 live alone

An estimated 8.8% of seniors in America are chronically lonely

Americans between the ages of 57 and 85 have support from an average of only 3.6 people

42% of Americans over 65 have a disability

Health, location, impairment, economic status, and even language can impact the risk of isolation

(AARP)

Tips for Fighting Loneliness

Tips for Fighting Loneliness

Besides holiday-specific methods for combating loneliness, there are many steps seniors can take to reduce social isolation. Seniors can:

  • Get connected with local senior centers
  • Attend religious or interest-based groups
  • Participate in home-visit programs
  • Schedule regular phone calls with loved ones
  • Practice letter or card writing, even to pen pals
  • Use technology to connect with distant loved ones
  • Mark social events to look forward to on the calendar
  • Call The Friendship Line at 1-800-971-0016 at any hour to engage in conversation. (NCOA)

Home Care Tip:

Loneliness is often linked to isolation. Isolation can be a threat to health, but also can increase safety risks. Social workers for seniors can arrange for a variety of services to help address seniors’ needs, including isolation.

Ted Wolfendale

Administrator at Dial-a-Nurse
Mr. Wolfendale is a graduate of Stetson University, and Stetson University School of Law, and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1988. He is admitted to practice in the Middle district of Florida, is an active member of the Florida Health Law section, and Lee County Bar Association.

In 1995 he became Administrator of Dial-a-Nurse nursing agency, the oldest nursing agency in the Southwest Florida succeeding his mother who started the company 37 years ago. He is also President of Nevco, Inc., an educational healthcare training company begun in 1988.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce on various Missions to improve the quality of life around the world by development of supportive healthcare programs. In 2005 he traveled with U.S. officials and addressed the Italian National Government assisting in the creation of Nurse Education mandates for that Country. In 2006 he was invited and spoke with the National Institutes of Continuing Education in Eastern Europe on healthcare education and developmental mandates, and most recently represented the United States at the European Union in Lake Balaton, Hungary in 2011. In 2014 he traveled with the U.S. Department of State to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in an effort to improve caregiver knowledge and training.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with a number of non-profits in contributing and creating curriculum to improve the quality of life in third-world countries since 2001, and notably created a successful program in Odessa, India that has been modeled in other areas of the world. In his backyard, he has worked with local Goodwill Industries to provide curriculum and training to underserved individuals who have obtained employment as a result of educational training. He was the Congressional appointment to the Governor's purple ribbon task force in 2013, and has worked to educate caregivers in all aspects of Alzheimer's training.