‘Tis the season for a festive get-together and holiday cheer, and yet, for many seniors, the season feels a little less joyful than usual. That’s because seniors have largely endured the brunt of COVID-19, given the isolation many have felt in an effort to stay safe.
And that’s why this year, seniors maybe even more at risk of having the holiday blues. Here are some ways to stave them off.
Admit that you are feeling a loss.
Early on in the pandemic, it was easier to feel fulfilled with the connections you were able to make—whether it was waving at your family through a window as you celebrated a “drive-by” event, participating in Zoom calls or watching family videos. But now those placeholders have lost some of their lusters as the pandemic drags on. Most of us look forward to the holidays all year, so it can be a blow to realize that that you won’t be indulging in your favorite activities or gathering with loved ones in person. It’s perfectly all right to give yourself time to mourn past holidays and recognize that this one will be different. But, then, it’s important to move on and identify ways to find joy.
Find virtual activities to replace those that are off-limits.
Typically this would be the time you would be planning family get-togethers, heading out to enjoy decorations downtown and making your gift list, and checking it twice. But even Santa is staying in the North Pole this year as everyone alters their plans to conform to current protocols. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite activities. If you delight in seeing holiday lights and can still drive, find a well-lighted block and enjoy the sights (or enlist a buddy and socially distance while you drive together). If you are known for your incredible baked goods, whip up several batches, package them up and ship them to your family, even if you can’t sample them together. If watching your grandchildren open special gifts is a highlight, do your shopping online and make sure that the recipients join you for a video call as they unwrap their present. Virtual church services and tree lightings are sure to be available as everyone adapts to this altered season.
Amp up the holiday spirit.
If there ever was a time that we needed holiday cheer, it’s now, and judging by the lights we already see around, most people agree! So order a pre-lighted Christmas tree and set it up where you can see it all day long. Find a radio station or streaming service playing your favorite carols and blast festive music. Tune in to the Hallmark or Lifetime TV station and have a feel-good holiday movie marathon.
Think of others.
It’s easy to wallow in self-pity if you are feeling lonely, but there’s nothing that can make you feel better than helping others. If you have usually spent the season volunteering in person, it can be hard to not have that outlet, but there are still ways you can help virtually. If you enjoy crafts or knitting, make blankets or warm mittens for newborns or the homeless; or be a foster grandparent to a child who needs a friend. Try Volunteer Match or AmeriCorps Senior to see opportunities that might be the perfect fit.
Plan something to look forward to.
One of the most challenging parts of the pandemic has been coming to grips with the fact that we don’t know when things will get better and allow us to return to some semblance of “normal.” Most of us feel more positive when we have events to look forward to on our calendar, and those have been in short supply. But we can hope that by next holiday season, the world has returned to its regular framework; while you don’t want to just wish this holiday season away, looking toward the summer or next December can raise your spirits. Take some time to write down all the things you want to do, the people you want to see and the memories you want to make and let your family know your future wishes so you can look forward to those times together.
Finally, don’t hesitate to let someone know how you are feeling, whether it’s your family, a friend, a neighbor or your physician. If you feel your “blues” are morphing into something more serious, it’s vital to reach out and get the help you need. The good news is that even if you feel alone, it’s important to realize that everyone is going through this same experience, and might be feeling a similar sense of melancholy. Talking to friends or loved ones can help validate your feelings—and will improve their spirits, too.
We at Ativo Senior Living of Yuma are looking forward to a sense of normalcy as well. In that spirit, we are delighted to announce that we have safely opened our Welcome Center, and we invite prospective residents and their families to call to set an appointment at 928-947-1525. Or visit the website which offers a virtual tour and more details on Ativo’s philosophy and all our community has to offer. We encourage you to call us if you are or know a senior who needs to hear a friendly voice.
Wishing everyone a happy—if different—holiday season.