The Missing Joy of Holidays For Seniors

Holidays are times for family get-togethers, generations of traditions and much celebration. After all, we say we celebrate the holidays. The reality, however, is that many people can feel depressed and lonely during this season of good will. It’s often easy to overlook the trouble of holidays for seniors.

Seniors can have an especially hard time with the holiday season. However, there are things you can do during the holidays to help. By simplifying the holiday season and concentrating on what really matters – people – you can offer your parent help through what can be, for some, a time of discouragement.

  1. Listen and understand when they want to talk. They are likely remembering many of the losses experienced over the years. Your empathy is very important. So try to put yourself into their life and what they have experienced over the years.
  2. Remind your loved one how important he is as a part of your own celebration and that of the entire family. Again, put yourself in his place. He may feel useless and burdensome. Remind him he is loved for who he is.
  3. Holiday cards often bring bad news, and diminish in quantity. Take time to read cards with your mom and reminisce about the fun times everyone had years ago.  Pull out old pictures and reminisce about holidays past.  You can also help write cards to keep the connection with life-long friends.
  4. Help dad see that you are trying to simplify the holidays in order to bring back the real meaning of your special times together. Let him know you remember what he taught you years ago – that it’s people who count, and thank him for that.
  5. If your parent is in an assisted living community or nursing home, check their activities calendar and plan a visit during a social event so you can share in their seasonal enjoyment.
  6. Check with your parents’ church or synagogue for programs that send visitors to the home.  Many of these volunteers undergo considerable training that provides them with tools to listen compassionately and creatively. This can go a long way toward helping with depression over the holidays.
  7. Help decorate their home or room to keep in the spirit of the holidays.  
  8. Bring traditional baked goods or treats regularly for your parents and their friends to share.
  9. Call your mom’s friends and see if they can come to a party. Make their dinner table special. Whether your parents are at home or in a senior residence, try to make the table festive with some appropriate colors and themes.
  10. Spend time with your loved ones. This is the most important thing you can do to enhance the holidays for everyone.

In conclusion, time is a rare commodity nowadays. You likely have many responsibilities that keep you busy throughout each week. However, your time is the most valuable gift you can give your parents during this holiday season. Do what you can while limiting the stress of the “Holiday Runaround”.  And know that your best efforts will be good enough and a blessing for sure. This can make all the difference to increase the joy of holidays for seniors.


-Rich Delong (Executive Director  – The Station Exchange, Richmond Hill GA)



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Stay Healthy And Happy My Friends.