The holidays are a time of celebrations, time spent with family and friends, and a festive and colorful time of year. For some older adults, it can be a time of extreme loneliness and depression, especially this year with COVID-19 still looming.
As we age, we may find ourselves in less social settings, friends and family may pass away, move away or we may even transition out of our homes where we have had a lifetime of happy holiday memories. A 2017 AARP survey found that 28% of U.S. adults ages 50 and older reported feeling lonely during the holiday season over the past five years, and nearly half (43%) have worried about a friend or family member who was lonely during the holidays.
As we approach the 2020 holiday season, it’s important to remember the older adults in our lives who may experience loneliness or depression, especially those that are living alone in their homes or are isolated due to COVID-19. Loneliness can not only affect our mental health, it can also have an impact on our physical health.
Signs of loneliness, which are similar to signs of depression, may include changes in appetite, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, over-sleeping or difficulty sleeping, loss of interest in hobbies or increased anxiety.
Below are five tips to help older adults stave off loneliness this holiday season:
For many, the holidays are filled with busy days and long to-do lists, but we need to remember to take time for our loved ones. Learn how to recognize signs of loneliness or depression and take action if you suspect someone you know may be suffering.
Editor’s note: Bhakti Gosalia is vice president of operations for Sun Health Communities, a West Valley-based company that owns and operates La Loma Village in Litchfield Park, Grandview Terrace in Sun City West and The Colonnade in Surprise, as well as the Sun Health At Home program, allowing individuals to successfully age in place in their current home.