The holiday season is a romantic, joy-filled, wonderful time of year…for most of us. However, for some of our beloved senior citizens, this time of year can be a sad, lonely, depressing time of year.
There are many reasons for this. Perhaps they have lost a loved one and the holiday season just doesn’t seem right without them. Maybe they are unable to continue on with long-held traditions and they miss being the ones to bring the family together around this time. They could also be in a situation that has them far from their loved ones and unable to see them or their loved ones are not able to come visit them. Whatever the reason may be, this season may not be a very pleasant one for some of the senior citizens in our lives.
Here are a few ways that you, and your loved ones, can brighten the season for these wonderful people:
1. Visit them. They do not have to be a relative or even a friend. You can usually stop in at different retirement homes and nursing facilities and ask at the front desk if there is anyone in the facility needs a little extra love around this time of year. You can set up a visit with them or invite them to join you for a meal in the facility dining room. Take this time to get to know them. It may seem weird at first, but who knows, you may have a new friend by the end of the visit.
2. Take extra gifts to them. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift either. Homemade gifts are the best. If you have a skill such as knitting or crocheting, make something for them. If you are a great (or just decent) baker, bake something for them (be sure to label things that may have ingredients that might cause an allergic reaction). Make a casserole for them. Make them a lovely picture frame. Anything you make, as long as it is heartfelt and filled with personal touches, will warm their hearts. You could even dress up as Santa Claus or elves and hand out the gifts yourselves (remember to be COVID cautious).
3. Help your child(ren) make cards for them. Nothing is more beautiful than a hand made card from a child. All of the colors, the misspelled words or well-meant misused sayings, the disorganized creativity. Nothing can brighten a person’s day more than a loving card from a young heart. This is a great activity for families, school classes, and Sunday school groups. You can make a bunch of cards for people (strangers even) in the hospital, nursing home, retirement home, or other facility and leave them at the front desk to be disbursed amongst the residents.
4. Go carol singing. Get your family together or a group of friends and visit a neighbor or facility nearby to sing carols with them. Carol singing is an amazing way to warm the hearts of others.
5. Invite them to help you spread joy. Invite them to send holiday cards to troops overseas or first responders. Organize an Operation Shoebox box stuffing party for them (you would gather all the supplies and just invite them to help pack the boxes). If they are able, ask them if they would teach you to make their favorite holiday recipe. Giving someone a purpose is one of the best ways to alleviate boredom and loneliness and giving them the opportunity to spread joy to others is a marvelous cure for those holiday blues.
6. Decorate for them. Maybe you have an elderly neighbor on your block who just cannot put up the decorations or the tree like they used to. Offer to do it for them or send your (older) children to help them out. If you want to decorate a facility, call them and ask if they are having any events that would be twice as nice if you decorated or if it is okay for you to decorate the dining room or gathering space for the holidays. Just remember that if you put decorations up, you must be willing to take them down as well. If you know them, you could also invite them to help you decorate your tree at home and share some milk and cookies and other family traditions with them.
Remember that a lot of the time, people just feel better when they know that someone is think of them. Reach out and see if there is anything you can do for any of your senior loved ones, neighbors, or community members. Check in on them this holiday season and share a little joy with them.
Please also remember that our senior citizens are one of the most vulnerable groups during this pandemic, so please take every precaution when engaging with them this holiday season and if you are not feeling well, stay away.