It’s that time of year! The holiday season is just about in full swing. Tis’ the season for good food, friends, and family – at least for most of us. Though this time of year is generally viewed as happy and exciting, for many, this is a time that reminds people of how lonely they are, or how much they miss a loved one.

The U.S. Census estimates that as many as 28% of adults aged 65+ lived alone in 2010. Loneliness is more than just an emotional issue. It has real implications for physical and mental health alike. Recent research has shown that feeling lonely or being isolated affects mortality in a similar way to that of a smoking habit of 15 cigarettes per day, and has more of an impact on mortality than other risk factors, like obesity and sedentary lifestyle. A Survey on Loneliness indicated that over half of people who had been diagnosed with anxiety, depression or another mood disorder reported being lonely. People who are lonely are more prone to depression and at greater risk of cognitive decline.

Here are some practical ways you can combat loneliness this holiday season.

Make Communication a Priority

Some older adults can go for days without speaking to anyone at all. This is especially true for those who have limited mobility or transportation options. Nothing beats an in person visit, but talking on the phone, video chatting and texting can make a huge difference. Make it a point to reach out before the actual holiday. Encourage other friends or family members to do the same.

Find Social Activities Through Local Organizations

Often times, churches are a great place for people of all ages to find opportunities for group activities. Senior centers are another great place to find community for older adults. Around the holidays, places like these tend to stay very busy with events and activities for the community. Put yourself out there, and you just might make a new friend you never knew you would!

Try to Find a New Hobby 

If you do not currently have a hobby, try to think of something you used to love doing but just don’t make time for anymore. Odds are that someone else in your community shares the same hobby or interest as you, and this would be a great opportunity to get social. Think book clubs, quilting classes, knitting circles, or exercise classes.

The holiday season does not have to remain a time of loneliness for some people. We encourage you to get involved in your community this holiday season, and spend time with your loved ones and friends- new and old alike.


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