How to Support the Elderly in Your Community during the Holidays

By Susan Hodges

During the holiday season, our schedules fill up quickly with parties, gift shopping and spending time with family. But it is important to stop and think about those who may be alone this time of year.

Many of the elderly who reside in nursing homes are often forgotten and end up spending the holidays without outside visitors including friends or family. This holiday season as a valuable gift, share your time with those who need it most. Even the smallest of things can make a world of difference for nursing home residents.

If you would like to make a positive impact on a nursing home in your community, make a call to one of the administrators and see if they welcome volunteers to come visit and spend quality time with the residents. A friendly face, a warm hug and a joyful conversation can end up being the highlight of a resident’s holiday season Around the holidays, companionship can combat negative feelings of loneliness, therefore human interaction plays an important role for emotional health. If your schedule allows, make a routine of visiting your local nursing home – the friendships you may develop could surprise you.

Be mindful about what makes the holiday season special to you, and the traditions you hold dear. Decorating the tree, hanging lights outside, listening to Christmas songs on the radio and carolers on the street – are most likely activities nursing residents also enjoy and miss doing this time of year. If you have the resources and are able to get a group together, host an event for your local nursing home. Volunteer to sing carols to the residents or gather holiday decorations to donate and embellish the home. A little music and festive decorating can make holiday time spent in a nursing home seem a little less lonely.

Additionally, if the nursing home permits, bring a friendly pet to interact with the elderly residents. The simple pleasures of petting, playing and cuddling with a furry friend are a distant memory to most nursing home residents. Being able to connect with an animal, even if it’s only for a little while, can further diminish the resident’s feelings of isolation.

The holidays are meant to be a joyful time of year, but for those who spend the season alone it is a different scenario. This year, give the gift of companionship to the elderly in your community. If you would like to donate additional items or gifts for residents call your local nursing homes for rules and regulations.