Loneliness and The Holidays

Tis the season for holiday cheer, but sadly not everyone’s spirit is merry and bright this time of year. Many older adults live alone and far from relatives, and the holidays can exacerbate feelings of loneliness. Loneliness is a emerging as a significant risk factor for cognitive decline. According to a 2016 study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry feelings of loneliness and depression over the course of the 12 year study were linked to mental decline.

So what can you do if your loved one lives far away? If you can’t visit in person or bring them home for the holidays, call them regularly to check in during the week. Teach them how to use a video conferencing tool like Skype or Google hangouts and schedule weekly video chats so that they can see you and the rest of the family (especially the grandchildren!). Talk with a trusted friend or neighbor to make sure your loved one is still actively engaging in their community—whether it be at the local senior center or their church. Care packages with their favorite snacks or books or just a handwritten note every month can let them know you are thinking about them. If your aging loved one seems lonely or you are worried that they might not be taking care of themselves or the house the way they used to, it’s time for an in-person visit. Arranging for a trusted in-home caregiver from a reputable company like Home Care Plus to help out a couple times a week can ensure they are in good hands when you can’t be there.

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