Categorized | Health, Family Care

How to Avoid Loneliness During The Holiday Season

Elderly, woman, depressed, caregiver, dementia, Alzheimer's

The holidays are supposed to be a happy time of the year, but many isolated seniors suffer loneliness — which can be harmful to their health.

Loneliness is linked to serious medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and heart disease as well as a higher risk of premature death. But loneliness can be easily overlooked as a health risk because healthcare providers can neglect asking their older patients about their social lives, and many older adults are too proud or embarrassed to ask for help, experts say.

When Cedars-Sinai physicians and nurses who specialize in caring for older adults screen their patients for isolation during comprehensive geriatric physical exams, they find that more than one-third are lonely.

Rosen

“Loneliness is a significant issue among older adults, robbing them of their ability to live vibrant, independent lives as they age,” said Sonja Rosen, MD, associate medical director, Geriatric Care Programs and chief of Geriatric Medicine for Cedars-Sinai Medical Group. “But it doesn’t have to be this way.”

To tackle loneliness over the holidays, Rosen and her colleagues at Cedars-Sinai suggest the following:

Search online listings. Throughout the holiday season, recreation centers, libraries, museums, places of worship and local colleges host free and low-cost community events.

Reach out. The holidays are a good excuse for seniors to call and catch up with friends and family. Younger family members and friends can make a point of stopping by a senior’s house for a quick visit.

Explore both new and familiar hobbies. Sign up for that art class you’ve always wanted to take, or offer to teach younger relatives and neighbors how to cook a favorite dish.

Seek medical advice. If these tips don’t seem to work, a geriatrician can connect seniors to other resources and potential treatments. “Fear of falling is a big reason older people don’t leave the house,” said geriatrician Allison Mays, MD, MAS.

Older patients experiencing loneliness often need to be treated for issues related to social isolation, such as functional decline, falls, malnutrition and depression.

“We want our older adults to maintain mobility and have more momentum in their lives,” said geriatrician Elizabeth Whiteman, MD. “We want them to preserve their independence and continue living where they want to live.” — Newswise

One Response to “How to Avoid Loneliness During The Holiday Season”

  1. Joe Brochin says:

    I hear about more and more of the over 50 crowd using their computer to access social media. Do you think this is a healthy solution for those who can’t get out much?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


Leave a Reply