The holiday season can be a joyous time, but it can also cause stress and lead to loneliness. Distance from loved ones, mourning a recent loss, or the first holiday without an important person can cause painful feelings.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, difficulty connecting with loved ones may worsen feelings of loneliness. Health concerns can reduce energy or mobility and make it even more challenging to connect.
Read these four tips to reduce loneliness around the holidays.
- Begin holiday planning early. Discuss plans for the holiday season with your loved ones. If you can’t see your loved ones in person, find new ways to make holidays meaningful.
- Weigh options and decide what is best. Stay current on the guidelines to stay healthy during the pandemic. For those over 65, consider your aging immune system. As we age, there are more serious challenges with fighting off viruses. Have open talks with loved ones and make decisions that are best for everyone.
- Adjust your holiday traditions or create new ones. The holidays often include traditions that we create together. Remembering past holidays can raise fond memories but can also lead to feelings of loss and loneliness. Instead of focusing on the past, find ways to update traditions or create new ones to make this season happy and memorable.
- Stay connected. During the pandemic, it is more important than ever to stay connected. This is true through the holiday season and beyond.
Mariam Moquim, a Licensed Master Social Worker at Landmark, is exploring virtual resources with patients more often during the pandemic.
For example, Ms. Smith*, age 79, lives alone and has congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes. She stays in touch with her son, but he lives out of state and she doesn’t see him as often as she’d like.
To help Ms. Smith feel connected, Mariam and Ms. Smith are exploring virtual services through the local senior center. For example, there is an exercise group that Ms. Smith can join from her home. Ms. Smith can also use a “warmline.” A warmline is a phone line staffed by local volunteers who provide a listening ear when someone feels lonely.
As the holiday season approaches, Ms. Smith feels hopeful about finding new ways to stay connected.
To learn more about senior centers and community resources, visit Eldercare Locator at https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx
To learn more about warmlines visit Mental Health America https://www.mhanational.org/
*Patient name changed to protect her identity.