Editor’s Note: “2 Your Health” is a new column in the Sun Lakes Splash dedicated to health issues. Each month different doctors and or medical associations, from varying specialties, will be writing on issues of importance. Articles are based on experiences and independent research conducted by the doctors or medical associations. We encourage anyone considering changing medications and or altering medical therapy, as a result of information contained in these articles, to consult your doctor first. Robson Publishing, a division of Robson Communities, Inc. is not liable for information contained in these articles.
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With isolation or loneliness listed among the major fears for those over age 65, it’s no wonder that many older adults face the holidays with dread.
In a Home Instead Senior Care survey, 80 percent of older adults listed isolation or loneliness among their biggest fears for the future.* “We see many seniors who are without family during the holidays,” said Mahnaz Pourian, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving the southeast valley. “That’s why it’s so important for families and friends to remember their senior loved ones during the holidays and for older adults to reach out if they need help.”
Pourian reminds family caregivers that they can be a great source of encouragement to help keep their loved ones motivated. She also offers the following suggestions to help seniors fight the blues during the holiday season:
1. Volunteer. Homeless shelters and other organizations that serve the needy are always looking for help, particularly during the holiday season. Call and find out what you can do for them. Many organizations need a variety of help that can match any skill or activity level.
2. Call a friend. If you haven’t talked to a friend or neighbor for a while, why not call and schedule an outing or coffee at your house? Your friend might be feeling the blues as well.
3. Get online. A study from the Phoenix Center found that spending time online reduces depression by 20 percent for seniors. Communicating with friends and family through the internet has become a popular way to stay in touch. You can find news and many other interesting and educational web sites as well.
4. Write a letter. If you’re not comfortable with the internet, send letters. Write not only to friends and family, but think about sending a note to someone who is ill or going through a hard time. Why not call your church or synagogue for a list of those whom you could contact. There’s nothing like a heartfelt card or note to lift the spirits of someone who is suffering.
5. Stay active. If you’re a senior fit enough for activity, think about a walking program or some type of activity that can keep you moving. Many seniors walk in the mall during the winter. If you haven’t exercised for a while, be sure to contact your doctor before you begin any activity program.
6. Get involved. Perhaps your church or community has holiday events. Most communities offer holiday plays and choral performances or coordinate service projects for others that will help get you in the holiday spirit.
7. Decorate your space. It may be beginning to look a lot like Christmas in your community, and it could be at your house as well. Why not get out your holiday decorations and give your home or apartment that festive feel. If you don’t have any decorations, purchase a few inexpensive items from your local discount or dollar store.
8. Make a list. Write down everything that you’re thankful for this year. You might be surprised and uplifted at what your list reveals about your life.
9. Watch a movie. The holidays are a great season for movies, old and new. If nothing in the previews appeals to you, consider an all-time favorite such as White Christmas or Miracle on 34th Street.
10. Be a caregiver or get one. If you’re a healthy and active senior, why not think about a part-time job? Caregiving is a great one. Home Instead Senior Care often hires seniors to serve as companions for other older adults. Or, if you’re in need of assistance, a professional caregiver could provide companionship and support to you. Contact the local office at 480-895-1460 or log on to www.homeinstead.com/195 for more information.
* The Boomer Project (www.boomerproject.com) completed online interviews with 523 seniors in the U.S. v