Older adult man standing next to Christmas tree and handing out wrapped gift.

Understanding Why Holidays Can Be Difficult for Older Adults

What do you love most about the holidays? Gathering with family and friends? Sitting down for a bountiful holiday feast? Showering your loved ones with gifts? There are plenty of reasons to get excited for the holiday season, but it’s not the same experience for everyone. There are many people, especially older adults, for whom the holidays can be a very lonely time in their life. It’s important to understand why, and to learn how you can make a difference in their lives.

3 Reasons Holidays Can Be Hard for Seniors

The holidays are typically seen as one of the most cheerful times of the year, but a recent AARP study found that 31% of respondents said they had felt lonely during the holiday season sometime in the past five years. But how can the “most wonderful time of the year” be such a lonely time for so many? We can help you better understand why.

1. Long-Distance Loved Ones

Not everyone has the luxury of living close to their family members. As children grow older and often move away, the distance can make it difficult to get everyone gathered together under one roof. But it doesn’t have to be just family members, either. Close friends and neighbors may have moved away over the years as well, only increasing the opportunity for a senior to feel lonely or depressed because they have to spend the holidays alone.

2. Travel Limitations

Have you ever traveled for the holidays? There seems to be no shortage of stressful stories, whether you are driving or flying by plane. It can be an exhausting experience, especially for seniors. Weather doesn’t always cooperate, especially in the Midwest. Even those willing to travel may not have the budget to afford it.

3. Changing Traditions

From trimming the tree to carving the turkey, older adults have likely cultivated their most cherished memories over the years from celebrating traditions. These traditions are typically shared experiences with family and friends. Not being able to celebrate in the same way can take some of the joy out of the holidays for them and fuel feelings of loneliness.

Tips for Helping Seniors Deal with Holiday Loneliness

Once you have recognized an older adult in your life may be dealing with feelings of sadness and loneliness, you can take steps to  bring some joy into their life around the holidays. Here are a few tips:

Take the Initiative

If you’re not able to gather with a loved one for the holidays, consider making more than a phone call. Go the extra mile, because the more thought and effort you put into your outreach, the more likely they are to feel that you genuinely care about them. Try arranging a video call with them so that you can at least see each other virtually. Make regular attempts to connect with the seniors in your life, and encourage other friends and family to do so, as well. It’s important that the older adults know there are people in their lives who are here for them and care about them.

Embrace Holiday Traditions

What are the holiday traditions you practice every year? From decorating the tree to watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” sometimes the simplest traditions can make the biggest difference. Rather than reminiscing about memories from traditions past, create new memories for your loved one by reviving the traditions that you may have let fade away.

More Inclusive Celebrations

No one wants to feel left out around the holidays. Holidays in general are about bringing people together, but it can be easy to forget that when making your plans. When putting together your invite list, consider which of your friends or family might benefit from being included. If you have older adults on your invite list, remember that you should also think about ways to make them feel comfortable and included at the party. It can be easy to feel isolated in a crowd, especially if it is loud and the older adults are unable to engage in conversation.

Help Embrace Change

Not all traditions are meant to last forever, but change isn’t always a bad thing. If you are looking to expand your horizons, think of new holiday activities that might appeal to the interests of the older adults in your life. You don’t have to recreate the past to rekindle the joy the seniors in your life may have felt back then. You just need to come up with new traditions tailored to their personality.

How a Community like Newcastle Place Helps Seniors Fight Loneliness

Support is an essential element of our community at Newcastle Place. Our team members work tirelessly to make sure our residents’ wants and needs are fulfilled. Here, each resident also benefits from the support of their neighbors. We are a true community in every sense of the word thanks to the warm and friendly residents who all share an enthusiasm for life. We all also have a variety of services and amenities within our community designed to give residents opportunities to be active and engaged.

If our community at Newcastle Place could help someone you know who is struggling with loneliness, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re available and ready to answer any questions you have. Contact us today to discover for yourself what makes Newcastle Place so special.