It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go. But, it’s important to remember that even though the holidays are a time of great joy, they can also be a time where many older adults feel socially isolated. A recent report states that over 1.5 million older adults find Christmas time to be the loneliest time of the year. It is especially important in Ireland to reach out to older adults during this time because one third of older adults over the age of 65 live alone and 60% of 80 years or older do too.
Although social isolation is not seen as the most pressing matter of health issues, it can have a significant effect on a person. The negative impact that it has can be as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Research has linked social isolation and loneliness with many physical and mental conditions. These conditions include: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Individuals can combat this loneliness in multiple ways:
Nonprofit organizations are always looking for people to help serve meals, care for animals or reading with kids.
– Making use of the resources your community has to offer.
Recreation centers, libraries, museums, places of worship and colleges host free and low-cost community events.
-Reconnect with friends and family.
Give a call to a loved one and meet up for a holiday celebration.
-Talk to your doctor.
A geriatrician can connect older adults with other resources and potential treatments that they may need.
Be sure to spread joy this Christmas season!
***Disclaimer: The information in this post is for reference only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical expertise or advice. If you have any concerns about your own or another’s health, then please contact your doctor.