The holiday season is often described as a time of joy, togetherness and celebration. We’re talking about gatherings with family and friends, the delightful exchange of gifts, mouthwatering feasts and memories that you’ll be reminiscing about for years to come.
But sometimes, the holidays can also stir up feelings of loneliness. While we don’t have the exact headcount of folks feeling this way, there is some data out there that lend to this sentiment. In this AARP survey, over 31 percent of adults admitted they feel lonely during the holidays. And, courtesy of the unwelcome guest, COVID-19, loneliness seems to have found an even cozier spot in the mix. Experts chalk this up to the difference between the desired level of connection and the reality of what they’re actually getting.
But fear not! Enter the magic of companionship during the holidays. Together, let’s explore ways to bridge that gap, transforming moments of loneliness into ones filled with joy and connection.
The Loneliness Dilemma
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost half of American retirees dread the solo act, spending double the time alone compared to younger folks. Declining mobility, loss of loved ones and hearing or memory loss can crash the party, leaving seniors feeling isolated.
Loneliness isn’t just a “mood”—it’s a health hazard. The National Institute on Aging paints a grim picture, linking it to a higher risk of heart disease, depression and memory issues. Here’s a wild statistic from the Perspectives on Psychological Science: researchers likened loneliness to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, potentially elevating the risk of premature death by as much as 30%.
Seniors grappling with health issues often find themselves in the lonely corner of the dance floor. Less exercise and tossing and turning at night pave the way for high blood pressure, extra weight, and even the dreaded D-word—dementia.
It’s unfortunately a never ending cycle where loneliness and health take turns spinning each other into a whirlwind of interconnected challenges.
What Sparks Loneliness in Seniors
Even during the most wonderful time of the year, seniors might find themselves feeling a bit lonely and grounded. Here are a few reasons why:
- Loss of Social Connections: You know how it goes – friends move to Florida, some move into senior living communities and others pass away. It happens, and it can leave our seniors with fewer friends to spend time with.
- Health Challenges: Sometimes, chronic illnesses, disabilities or mobility issues can limit a senior’s ability to engage in social activities, leading to increased isolation.
- Changes in Family Dynamics: Families grow and change, and kids spread their wings and fly the coop. Suddenly, the house feels quieter, and our cherished seniors might miss the cheerful chaos of yesteryears.
- Financial Constraints: Tight budgets restrict seniors’ participation in social events or activities, causing them to feel left out or unable to take part in holiday festivities.
- Lost License: Ah, the freedom of the open road! Unfortunately, for some seniors, the driving chapter might close due to losing driving privileges. This can turn the car keys into a distant memory, making it trickier to get around town and catch up with friends.
How to Offer Companionship
You don’t have to be a professional caregiver to offer companionship during the holidays. Sometimes, all it takes is a little time and a big heart. Here are some simple ways to provide companionship:
- Visit: Spend time with a senior family member or neighbor. Even a short visit can brighten their day.
- Share a Meal: Invite them to share a holiday meal with your family or cook together.
- Engage in Social Activities: Play games, do crafts or watch a holiday movie together.
- Listen: Sometimes, all it takes is a listening ear. Let them share their stories and memories.
- Volunteer: Consider volunteering at a local senior center or nursing home to bring companionship to those in need. You could even turn this into a new holiday tradition!
Embrace the Magic of Companionship
Companionship during the holidays isn’t just about being physically present; it’s about genuinely connecting with the people around you. It’s about sharing love, laughter and precious moments. When you offer your companionship, you’re not just bringing warmth to someone’s holiday; you’re creating a magical experience filled with the joy of human connection.
So, as you navigate the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, remember that the most cherished gift you can give is the gift of your time and social connection. It’s a gift that can brighten the lives of seniors, reminding them that they are loved and valued. In return, you’ll find your own heart filled with the happiness that only true companionship can bring.
About the Author
Naborforce is all about connecting older adults and their families who need a helping hand with compassionate Nabors who are eager to lend one. Whether it’s help with decorating, wrapping presents, shopping and meal preparation or offering companionship during the holiday season, we’re here to help.
Call 844.MyNabor or visit our services page to learn more today!