The Campaign to End Loneliness has discussed the negative impacts loneliness can have on our lives as we reach the senior stage of life. Loneliness can be “as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day”. From that, lonely people have a “64% increased chance of developing clinical dementia”. With the detrimental impact loneliness can have on our lives, we should be putting greater importance on the older community and how we can genuinely enrich their golden years with emotional and social support.
On top of that, the holiday season can heighten loneliness, especially in seniors. They may not have loved ones close to visit or may not have a partner or children to celebrate with. Helping relieve loneliness should be an ongoing effort, but here are a few ways we can help relieve loneliness in the community this holiday season.
Nominate Someone for a Christmas Hamper
Money can be tight once you are retired, with only your pension coming in – if you have one.
If you know of a senior neighbour or an older friend that may be struggling with income, reach out to a local charity and nominate them for a Christmas hamper! This would be a thoughtful gesture as it can provide perishable and non-perishable food items, as well as a turkey that can be cooked for Christmas dinner. If you know them well enough, go the extra mile and invite them over for Christmas dinner.
This can enrich a senior’s holiday season, providing quality time with others, as well as any needed support during the Christmas season.
Drive Groups to a Holiday Light Show or Event
As some seniors may not have the opportunity to get out as often, let’s make sure they can enjoy the holiday season!
Grab a group of people with access to vehicles and offer to drive some seniors in your community to a local light show. Celebrate the holidays with friends, family, and older community members, all while helping some seniors be more active and social during the holiday season.
Do you have a day dedicated to Christmas shopping? Ask your older neighbour if they would like to come.
Some older adults may not have access to a vehicle or aren’t confident in driving. This is extremely helpful and helps cross off something on their list. As a bonus, the company or enjoyment of spending the day with a friendly acquaintance may significantly improve their week, especially for those struggling with senior loneliness.
Do you notice any older neighbours that may not have assistance with snow shovelling this winter? Offering to shovel their snow is a great way to help. Afterwards, staying for a tea and chatting is the enjoyable part and will let you both get the chance to know each other a little better.
No time for chatting? The interactions before and after shovelling, plus the offer itself, would help improve any loneliness your older neighbour may be experiencing.
Visit a Retirement Home
Loved ones may be busy during this holiday season, so some seniors may not have much family visiting them as often.
With your spare time, organize with any retirement or nursing homes to see if they have any volunteering events or times you can stop by to visit. Bring your family, friends, anyone who is up for a day of meeting new people and making new connections. Stopping by for a chat, providing a musical performance, or caroling can help improve their holiday season.
When it comes to support, it is important to note that everyone is different and there is a personalized response for each person. Understanding the nature of an individual’s loneliness and developing a personalized response is the most effective way, which can be done effectively through the creation of social groups and unique connections.
Start with these efforts this holiday season and see if can make an impact in a senior’s life. Make the step to reduce the 25% of adults aged 75 or older who do not speak with someone every day and enrich their lives – you may be surprised how much your life is positively affected.
Happy Holidays from Right at Home!