The winter months are a challenging time of year to keep an upbeat outlook: cold weather tends to keep people indoors and less socially active, early sundowns can deprive our bodies of mood-improving vitamin D and the holidays can stir up feelings of anxiety or isolation, especially for older adults living alone.
If you worry about an older loved one during the holiday season, consider these tips to warm the winter months:
- Call or visit more frequently during the winter months
While a friendly visit to an older loved one’s home is sure to raise spirits, families that are more geographically spread out can set aside a 30-minute window once or twice a week to give their loved ones a phone call.
By having a regular call schedule, both parties have something to look forward to and can think of fun updates to exchange while chatting.
- Involve your loved one in holiday planning
Whether you visit in-person or by phone, remember that planning meals, picking gifts and putting up holiday decorations are almost as big a part of the holiday season as the get-togethers themselves.
Consider asking your older loved one for advice on decorating or picking gifts for your family – sometimes a fresh perspective can make your holiday planning easier, and asking for advice reminds your loved one that their opinion matters.
- Ask about holiday memories
As we age, it’s important that the family stories and traditions we remember are passed onto the next generation. Just talking about past holiday celebrations can bring a sparkle to your loved one’s eyes and might help you see your family in a new light.
- Arrange a friendly visit or holiday meal
If you cannot visit your loved one during the holiday season, consider doing some research on senior-focused home-visit services and see if you can arrange a friendly visit through a local Visiting Neighbor or Meals On Wheels service.
- Send updated family photos
Phone calls are a great way to stay in touch, but being able to put a face to each family member’s voice can really help your loved one feel connected. Consider getting a good photo from each of your immediate family members, print them and send them to your loved one in a letter.
- Call from the dinner table
Regularly scheduled calls are a great way to stay in touch, but surprising your loved one with a call from the holiday dinner table can be a gift all on its own. In the event your loved one doesn’t pick up, be sure to leave warm wishes in a voicemail message and call back later!
- Reach out to local senior resources or in-home caregiver services
A new year means a chance for new experiences, and this might be the year your loved one considers reaching out to a local senior center or home care provider in order to stay more engaged with their community.
Senior centers almost always offer some form of holiday programming and can provide a new social network for your loved one to explore, while the assistance of an in-home caregiver can help an older adult manage day-to-day activities and still retain the time and energy to enjoy the holiday season.
If you worry about the wellbeing of an older loved one in your life, but are unsure how to help, consider calling SelectCare. Our team of home health care experts have helped New Yorkers live happier, healthier lives in the comfort of their long-time homes for more than 30 years, and our team is available to provide support and guidance throughout the holiday season. Request a free in-home care guide to learn more!