Dec 25, 2017 by Diane Genovese
The holidays are joyous times that encourage feelings of togetherness, fond memories of the past and hopes for the future. Gatherings with family and friends are sure to lift spirits as new memories are created. Opposite from this truth, many seniors, especially those who have lost spouses or beloved friends may experience increased loneliness during the holidays. As family gathers, it is very apparent which family members are no longer there. Even neighborhoods change, often leaving those well enough to remain in their own homes feeling friendless and isolated.
Think about all the things you love about the holidays – your favorite parties, favorite family traditions, seeing your loved ones and friends. Your elderly loved ones had a lifetime of those as well, but those things have changed. They may have loved ones who have recently passed away and they may have health issues that prevent them from enjoying holiday events. Christmas becomes a reminder of all that has changed and of the losses endured. Talk to them about their sadness. Empathize by sharing a time when you have felt sad or out of sorts. Then listen. A caring heart and open ears is a gift you can give over and over. Each one of us can be instrumental in keeping the “joyful” memories alive. Offer to take your loved one to holiday events. If not an event, go places where there are beautiful decorations and Christmas music, such as the mall or even a drive through downtown St. Joseph, alive with colorful lights and lovely window displays. Offer to take them shopping to assist in choosing gifts as they may become overwhelmed by navigating in crowded stores. There is much to choose from locally even when on a limited budget and with your help, they can make the right choice. If they cannot physically join you to shop, perhaps they can provide you with a list so you may shop for them. Have fun baking holiday goodies together. Help them write their own cards to keep a connection with life-long friends. Again, this captures those precious memories from the past shared with their old friends and provides the opportunity for you to be engaged and listen to “their joy” in the stories they share with you.
Remind your senior loved ones and friends how truly important they are. Make them feel loved by creating new memories with them this Christmas and beyond – your “Gift” to one another.
The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing other’s loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas.”
~ W. C. Jones
-Diane Genovese, Owner