NJ Senior Care Blog

Senior Isolation + The Holidays: How Can You Help?

 


The holidays are one of the most joyous times of year. Family gatherings, traditions and celebrations with friends make the season special. For many seniors, however, it’s a time of loneliness and isolation.


Are you concerned about a senior loved one this holiday season? Here’s how you can help.

Look for Signs of Depression


Seniors may experience depression differently than younger individuals do.


Many seniors, for instance, develop depression as a result of physical incapacitation, illness or injury.


Seniors with chronic health conditions may develop depression if their mobility or independence is negatively impacted. Seniors who have recently lost family members or friends are at higher risk of developing depression. Additionally, medications that treat illnesses common in senior citizens can make depressive symptoms worse. These include drugs for high cholesterol, beta-blockers, ulcer medications and blood pressure medication.


It’s important to remember that depression is never a normal part of aging.


If you notice any of the following symptoms in your aging loved one, he or she may be suffering from depression:

 

  • Sudden weight loss
  •  Loss of appetite
  •  Sleep disturbances (not sleeping well or oversleeping)
  • Pessimism or hopeless outlook
  •  Lack of energy
  •  Persistent aches, pains and discomfort
  •  Lack of interest in formerly beloved hobbies or activities

These depressive symptoms may worsen during the holidays, when financial issues, living alone, and inability to travel can increase rates of depression among seniors. If these symptoms persist for over two weeks, consider scheduling an appointment with a mental healthcare specialist.

Plan a Holiday Visit

Many seniors can no longer drive or organize transportation for themselves. Lack of transportation makes it difficult for them to attend holiday gatherings or events. As a result, your senior loved one may spend the holiday season largely alone.


Here’s how you can help:


Offer to organize transportation to a family holiday event. You could hire a professional caregiver or ask a family friend or neighbor to provide transportation and assistance for your loved one during a family event. This can reduce your aging loved one’s stress and help them feel confident while traveling for the holidays. Or, if you have availability yourself, you can offer to pick up your loved one and bring them to a family event, too.


If your loved one can’t leave their home or facility, consider bringing holiday festivities to them.


Organize a visit to your senior loved one’s home or facility. Bring holiday decorations, and organize activities like cookie-baking, caroling or watching a holiday movie together. Take photos to commemorate the event.

Stay Connected With Them

If your senior loved one lives hundreds of miles away, an in-person visit might not be possible.  In these circumstances, a Skype call or FaceTime call can help your senior loved one feel connected. If your loved one has a home caregiver and access to transportation, you can even organize a trip to a local senior citizen center for a holiday meal or event.


You can also harness the power of the internet and social media to help your loved one feel connected throughout the season. If your senior loved one uses Facebook or email, create an email chain or private group for sharing family photos and updates during the holidays.


As the holiday season quickly approaches, it’s important to remember that seniors can feel increasingly isolated and lonely during this time of year. Taking the time to connect with a senior in your life can make all the difference.


If you’re interested in learning more about New Jersey senior home care in Mercer and Burlington Counties, contact Visiting Angels today.

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.