5 Tips for Preventing Senior Loneliness During the Holidays

Senior couple sitting by Christmas tree

As the National Council on Aging (NCOA) article, “4 Steps to Combat Loneliness in Seniors,” states,“It’s December, and the holiday season is in full swing. It’s the time of year for good food and good friends and family—at least for most of us.” 

Unfortunately, there are many seniors in nursing care communities today who can feel lonely during the holiday season. No longer physically able to enjoy the holidays at home with family and friends, they can feel a sense of personal loss and loneliness.  

The NCOA adds that loneliness is more than an emotional issue for seniors; it has real implications for their physical and mental health. Recent research has shown that feeling lonely or being isolated affects senior’s mortality in a similar way to that of a smoking habit of 15 cigarettes per day and has more of an impact on mortality than other risk factors, such as obesity and sedentary lifestyle.

Therefore, senior loneliness should be a family priority if you have an older loved one who is no longer able to be at home for the holidays.

Says Janet McNemar, NHA, MBA, Executive Director at Bryn Mawr Terrace, located in Bryn Mawr, PA, “With the busy and often hectic pace of the holiday season, it can be easy to lose sight of what a loved one in long-term care may be feeling this holiday season, for example, loneliness. Seniors of this age often feel a genuine sense of loss around the holidays as they reflect on family members and friends who have departed, as well as their own lost abilities. 

“These thoughts of past relationships and experiences – which are very common to seniors around the holidays – often magnify the sense of isolation and loneliness they can experience. Recognizing this, Bryn Mawr Terrace encourages holiday visitors and welcomes the opportunity to arrange special celebrations for your loved one in addition to our regular holiday events and Life Enrichment Activities.

“There are also helpful suggestions from senior care experts that can prevent or reduce your loved one’s loneliness and add to their holiday cheer.”

5 Ways to Prevent Your Senior Loved One from Feeling Lonely This Holiday

  1. Give the gift of your time – There is no greater giftto your senior loved one this holiday than your personal time, attention and love.

Let them know how important they are to you and the other members of your family. And reassure them that you are always thinking of them, even when you can’t be there with them. It is also an ideal time just to listen so they can let you know what they are feeling. 

While there, take some time to look at family photos, update them on the latest family news, listen to holiday music or do whatever things they most enjoy. Just spending time together can be a priceless holiday gift.

2. “Deck the halls” and their room – Decorating your senior loved one’s room can provide a festive holiday feeling while lifting their spirits and reducing feelings of loneliness. Ask them what favorite decorations they’d like to have and let them help with the decorating if they are able. Invite your loved one’s friends and other family members to join in the fun.

3. Take the holiday celebration to them – In addition to the scheduled holiday events and festivities at Bryn Mawr Terrace, our helpful staff can also assist you in organizing a holiday party or dinner for your special senior. You can enjoy a festive “family and friends” get-together in one of our lounges with the decorations, food and music of the season to lift your loved one’s spirits and make them feel a part of the celebration!

4. Bring their favorite holiday foods – Favorite foods can make any holiday gathering more enjoyable. So, bring your senior loved one their favorite holiday foods and desserts and spend some time with them enjoying the seasonal fare and talking. This is another fun way to enjoy the season while reducing any feelings of loneliness.

5. Make it a family (and friends) affair – Be sure to encourage other family members and your loved one’s friends to visit often during the holidays. And if your special senior has young grandchildren or great-grandchildren in the area, be sure to bring them for a visit. Older adults love to see children, and they will brighten your loved one’s spirits.

By taking these tips to heart, you and your senior loved one can enjoy a holiday with less loneliness and much more joy!

For more helpful senior living and senior care information, we invite you to read our monthly articles and tips on a variety of important senior health topics. We also welcome you to stop in for a tour to see for yourself why we’ve been rated “Best in Senior Care.”

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “5 Tips for Preventing Senior Loneliness During the Holidays,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

A Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

There are times when the challenges associated with advanced age, a prolonged illness or a chronic condition make 24-hour care and support a necessity. At Bryn Mawr Terrace, we’re always here for you and your family. Our compassionate, professional team treats our residents as family and respects each of them as the individuals they are, all with their own unique life story.

We understand that each one of our residents has unique needs and desires, so we deliver personalized care and services that are tailored to each individual. The amenities and activities offered within our community are designed to keep our residents happy, fulfilled and living well. From delicious dining to a variety of social programming, we offer a lifestyle that’s meant to be lived!

Located near Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr Terrace – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has provided exceptional care and services to seniors and their families since 1966. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Bryn Mawr Terrace serves as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), offering a range of services – including short-term rehabilitationtraditional nursing careindependent living, personal carememory carerestorative care and respite care – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing. 

For more information on Bryn Mawr Terrace and our variety of needs-based lifestyle services, please call us at 610.525.8300 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Bryn Mawr Terrace and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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