Holiday cheer and happiness are encouraged in songs and advertisements during this time of year. Unfortunately, for many older adults, the holidays also bring with them some emotional complications.
Many times, the holiday season brings a reminder of loved ones lost, feelings of isolation and memories of loneliness. However, there are several ways that you can combat those feelings, for yourself or for an isolated loved one.
Talk About It
Sometimes the simplest of things – opening a holiday card – can trigger thoughts that lead to sadness. If this happens, don’t keep those thoughts inside. Share them with a friend or family member; you may end up feeling better by getting those feelings off your chest.
If a holiday card arrives and reminds you of a loved one who has passed, share stories of that loved one with friends or family. You could also take this holiday as an opportunity to start a new family tradition. Try buying a journal or scrapbook, so that each time a card comes in the mail, you can write a note in the journal about how you met the person who sent the card to you. Paste or tape the card into the journal. It will be keepsake for the months and years to come, helping you feel more connected to those friends and relatives who live far away.
Be a Joiner
If you live in an independent living or assisted living community, there are sure to be holiday events planned in the coming weeks. Participating in holiday dinners and game nights and movie events will be good ways for you to socialize and spend time with other people.
Many times, someone else’s enthusiasm can be infectious. You might even find yourself enjoying the holidays more.
Sometimes it can be difficult to look through those cherished decorations that represent years of memories. But sometimes, those can also be dear, sweet moments you want to share with others. Don’t feel like you have to decorate all at once. Put out a few decorations at a time, enjoying the memories they bring into your home.
Soon, your home will be warm and festive, a place that nurtures and inspires you to move through the holiday season with joy.
Redirect Your Focus
One constructive way to fight the isolation and loneliness during the holiday season is to volunteer. Getting out of the house and focusing on someone or something else is a great motivator. Helping others has also been proven to boost your mood and bring peace of mind.
And it’s easier than most people think to find a volunteer opportunity in your area. These three websites can help:
1) Network for Good – You type in your zip code, areas of interest and how far you are willing to travel from your home. The website will provide you with opportunities from which you can choose.
2) VolunteerMatch – Volunteers are able to type in a location and a cause and be connected to a variety of needs within minutes. You send an email or call the organization to sign up for events. Many places will let you volunteer during the times that are most convenient for you.
3) Idealist – This website allows you to search by events, volunteer opportunities or organizations, just to name a few. You’re sure to find an opportunity to do something worthwhile and give back to the community.
No matter what type of activity you are interested in, there should be a local organization that can connect you with people in need. Get out there and meet new friends while serving soup to the homeless or cleaning up at an animal shelter. There are so many opportunities to get involved, and volunteering can help you stay socially connected as you age.
The holidays may not have always been your favorite time, but with a little effort and planning, you can enjoy yourself and make the holiday better for someone else at the same time.
Seniorly knows some of the best volunteer opportunities for people located in the San Francisco Bay Area. And we want to hear about your experiences over the holiday season. Feel free to visit our Resource Center to post your comments and questions; you’ll get answers direct from industry professionals. We look forward to helping you make the most of the holidays with your elderly loved ones.