Ways to Prevent Isolation & Loneliness Over the Holidays
Did you know that adults ages 65 and older are particularly at risk for loneliness and social isolation? As the temperatures drop, the days get shorter, schedules get busier, and the winter season comes back in full force, the risk for loneliness only gets higher around this time of year. In fact, over 40% of seniors regularly experience loneliness.(1) As surprising as this sounds, the holidays can be a pretty isolating time if you’re an older adult.
Whether you’re at risk or know someone who could be, there are still a number of ways to stave off any holiday-induced isolation. The Benchmark team came up with a few ways that can help.
As cold as it is, a little fresh air and some natural vitamin D (even on a cloudy day) can work wonders for your mental health—just be sure to bundle up nice and warm before braving the winter wonderland. If you can’t make it outside, sit beside a window with a cozy blanket for a while and take in the sights without the shivers!
Take up a new hobby.
Benchmark communities have so many different clubs and groups based on our current residents’ interests, but we’re always looking for more ideas for new clubs and offerings. If you’re looking for something to do at home, try making homemade gifts for loved ones out of whatever supplies you have on hand. A little yarn, construction paper, or paint could go a long way!
Start or join a book club.
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t curl up with a good book and gather with a few friends to discuss it along the way. Need some ideas? Check out our Benchmark Book Clubs’ recommended books to read this winter here. If you can’t join your friends in person for book club, start a book club chat line over the phone! Plan to call the same time each week to discuss the latest chapters you’ve read.
Turn TV into a social activity.
3.9 million older adults have said that TV is their primary source of company.(2) To make watching your favorite TV shows a little more effective, call up a friend or family member and talk about your favorite show after you both watch it or during the commercial breaks. Make it a weekly tradition! After all, we all need someone to talk to after a surprising episode of Jeopardy! right?
Play games in a group setting.
From chess and checkers to bingo and charades, at Benchmark, we have plenty of opportunities for you to bring your competitive edge and connect with other people while you’re at it. If you’re at home, try calling up a friend to see if you can solve the Sunday paper’s crossword puzzle together. After all, two heads may be better than one!
While social isolation and loneliness can lead to a number of health risks, the flip side of that is that staying social and connecting with friends and family on a regular basis can also provide a number of health benefits. So, no matter how tempting it is to hunker down during the cold winter months, remember to reach out to your loved ones and stay connected.
(1)Source: UC San Francisco
(2)Source: Campaign to End Loneliness