By Sofy Maxman, EI Blogger
The holidays are filled with many things – confusing weather patterns, New Year’s resolutions, warm drinks, and more. But they also come packed with heavy expectations and pressures: the pressure to surround yourself with family and friends, to enjoy the time you spend with people, and to have a constant surge of energy. For many people, this proves to be quite difficult. For older adults, this can prove especially tough. With the gained experience and wisdom may come the inevitable loss of loved ones, or physical and mental capabilities. These feelings of hardship or difficulty are easily reinforced and heightened during the holiday season, and can lead to isolation. Whether intentional or not, it is important to know how to deal with isolation during the holidays.
As countless studies have shown, interaction with other people is a crucial part of emotional well-being. This can be difficult when faced with physical obstacles, especially during the cold and snowy season. Taking advantage of the people you have near you can be especially helpful during this time of the year. If you feel that you do not have folks nearby who can keep you company an ample amount, there are campaigns and organizations to help with this! The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), for example, has joined the “Home for the Holidays” campaign.
Home for the Holidays is a national campaign which aims to raise awareness of loneliness in elder populations. Together with hundreds of agencies and organizations, they pair up with elders and volunteers to send visitors to homes of folks living independently. This visitation program takes place throughout the whole year, and is amped up during the holiday season. Staying engaged is key, and if you feel that you or someone you love is unable to do so outside of their home, this program is a wonderful option for keeping away feelings of loneliness.
There are many options for elder folks to get engaged in their communities as well. Volunteering is always boosted during the holiday season. For opportunities that get you out and involved in the community, check out “Volunteer Match”: https://www.volunteermatch.org/volunteers/
Not only does volunteering get you interacting with others and your community, but studies have shown that it increases levels of happiness and contentment, both of which fight loneliness. Social participation is key, and provides a strong sense of community and comfort. If you are involved in a religious group, take advantage of services and holiday get-togethers! This is a great way to meet others, and to feel belonging.
Do not forget to reach out to your loved ones during the holiday season, and to keep your eyes out for folks you know who may not have family around to spend the days or nights with!