We all try to include our older relatives during the holiday festivities, but once the holidays are over do we try to stay in touch?
After Christmas and New Year’s are done and gone, older people can be left starving for company. The weather is usually bad, making getting out harder for older folks. The younger generation is just glad it’s all over and they’re trying to recuperate from all the work of hosting the family gatherings. It can make for some lonely seniors.
I know when I was growing up, we’d go to visit my Granny Mann and there were usually a dozen or so relatives who gathered to visit along with us. When it came time for everyone to go home, my aunts and uncles did their best to sneak away. No one wanted to be the last to go and have to see my granny cry!
This year I encourage you to get together with the rest of your family members and make dates for visiting with mom and dad before the holidays are over. Isolation and loneliness plus the gloomy days can take a toll on older people. They need something to look forward to, even if you just stop by for a little while, or take them to the library or out for lunch.
Perhaps you can get them a new calendar and just have everyone sign up for a outing or visit while you’re all together during the holidays.
Other Ways to Keep them Social
On one of your visits you might want to get them acquainted with the local senior center. Most cities have a good senior center, but a lot of seniors have never visited one. Many of the centers have exercise classes, art classes and sponsor field trips to interesting places. Chances are your mom or dad will know someone who’s already active at the senior center. Many offer transportation to and from the centers and even have adult day care to keep them busy every day. Going along on their first visit can break the ice for them. Take them during lunch time and find out if the food is good.
If your senior is still going strong, you might encourage them to volunteer at the senior center or the local food bank. Even frail seniors might enjoy being a “phone buddy.” Senior services are often looking for people willing to call shut-ins once a day to make sure they’re alright.
Hospitals love to have older people come and visit the babies. Pink Ladies (hospital volunteers) just work a few hours at a time and help direct people to where they need to go, take magazines and flowers to people in their rooms and deliver snacks and drinks between the meals.
Pick up the Phone – Often
When my parents were younger, they rarely talked on the phone. Now, they call me at least once a day and they so enjoy hearing from the grandchildren and their relatives in Oklahoma. If you can’t visit for a while, make sure and pick up the phone and give them a call. For some seniors, it will be the only conversation they had that day.