Make an Elderly's Holiday Enjoyable
Aging Matters

The elderly have a difficult time during the holiday season, the unpreventable losses that happen to even the happiest and healthiest people affect this festive time. The losses are emotional and social. A spouse and other relatives may become ill or die. Next door neighbors move away, leaving the elderly living alone feeling isolated and without a friend. It's not something most people consider, but for some individuals, the season can peak the feelings of lonesomeness and loss.

As a husband or wife with young children and other relatives who count on you, time is a precious commodity and a gift that an elder would treasure. If you have, a little to spare, here are a few things you can add to the "to-do" list to brighten another person's holiday. Check out the holiday guide for other ideas.

  • Lend an ear to listen to their losses if they mourn. Don't tell them to get over it. They can't. Empathy is critical. Imagine yourself in their position. How would you feel if you lost someone special earlier this year? Your understanding is needed.
  • If the older person lives in a nursing home, check with the local daycare to see if they can bring children to visit the residents. Or take your grandchildren to visit the elderly at the facility.
  • Pick up the older friend and take them for a visit or dinner with your family. They'll appreciate spending time with a family instead of staying alone at home.
  • Check with the local churches, they may offer social calls to people living alone or in a facility. Some faith organizations have programs that offer companionship visits during the holidays. The act of kindness goes a long way to helping with depression.
  • Offer to decorate their home or room. Having a brightly lit space or area can significantly inspire uplifting.
  • Bring baked goods or a basket of fresh fruit for them to share with friends in a nursing home.
  • Have lunch with them. Join them at the facility's cafe or bring a simple lunch to their home. Be sure you call ahead first to make sure they're available.
  • If they enjoy the company of a pet, drop by for a visit and bring a well-behaved pet along.
  • Look at photographs or videos with them so they can walk down memory lane. Listen to them reminisce.
  • Have a party. Invite the elders' friends and see if they can come to a party. Check with the nursing home if you can use a conference room for a holiday or a New Year's Eve party for the elder and their friends.
  • Help them place a call to a friend or relative. At times, arthritis can stand in the way of using a telephone.

Hope you find one useful tip to brighten an elderly's life during the holiday season.

Carol Marak is the editor at She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from the University of CA, Davis.

Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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