Lonely seniors at Christmas
As the holidays approach, loneliness becomes the spirit of Christmas present for all too many older people. Nearly 60 percent or more of senior citizens age 70 or older experience some loneliness over the Christmas season.
In a “Gerontology” study, it was found that seniors find friendships are more important than family relationships in predicting good mental health. Social interactions between people who they can relate to, who are experiencing the same health issues, who are experiencing the same social issues & who may be experiencing the same family issues all help toward seniors experiencing better mental health.
Because of the deaths of spouses and friends, senior’s roles change such as retirement and declining health issues. These changes spur people on to withdraw from their social networks to include only people they feel close to leading to loneliness and isolation. The goal then should become focusing on the positive and developing plans for coping with the difficulties.
Dinner time can become a lonesome time for many because gathering around food usually brings social interaction. Now there is no one to cook for or to eat with and it is not uncommon for the elderly’s diet to slowly deteriorate. While the senior’s appetite decreases it is still necessary to eat foods such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains as it could be instrumental in promoting staying positive and emotionally healthy.
Companionship may help people continue to feel independent. In addition, companionship and friends seem to provide emotional intimacy and integration into the community through activities that seniors once enjoyed doing. For example, dancing, art classes, woodworking, bird watching, walking clubs, gardening, cooking or even the going out for dinner and a movie are all activities that can still be enjoyed and give purpose and meaning to life.
Seniors have such interesting tales to share from days gone by and lots of advice to give and over the Christmas season there might be plenty of opportunity to enjoy some milk and cookies with a lonely senior.