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. Odds are, you have a family member or friend who struggles with holiday loneliness. We have some helpful tips that can be good to fall back on this holiday season in case you run into anyone struggling with this issue.

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 to your loved one before the actual holiday. Encourage other friends or family members to do the same. Doing this can help prevent them from feeling isolated and forgotten about on the actual day of the holiday.

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. It is important that you encourage your loved one to participate in things like this around the holiday season. Maybe even offer to go along with them, if this is an option for you. Encourage them to meet people and make new friends, to help them avoid feelings of loneliness.

Try to Find a New Hobby 

If your loved on does not currently have a hobby, try to think of something they used to love doing but just don’t make time for anymore. Odds are that someone else in their community shares the same hobby or interest, and this would be a great opportunity to get social. Think book clubs, quilting classes, knitting circles, or exercise classes. Encourage your loved to get involved in some sort of club that does activities that they are interested in. Shared activity is an excellent way for people to connect.

The holiday season does not have to remain a time of loneliness for some people. Reach out those loved ones in your life who may be more susceptible to loneliness, and use these tips to encourage them and help them feel better.


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