The end of another year is almost upon us, and that means that we have some celebrating to do. Regardless of how you do it or what you call it, almost every culture around the world has some type of revelry they engage in to help get them through the chill and darkness of the winter season.
For the elders among us, however, the holiday season can sometimes be a difficult time. Keep in mind that 36% of women and 19% of men over age 65 live alone. Among women over 75, 46% are on their own. That means that a lot of older folks are facing the prospect of a holiday table set for one.
Some of our seniors won’t have much of a holiday meal on hand; estimates tell us that about 10 million of people over 65 are at risk for hunger. With about 9% of seniors living below the poverty level, and a median income for older women of about $16,000 a year, it can be tough for some to balance their need for food, shelter and medication.
I’m really not trying to throw a wet blanket over your roasting chestnuts, so let’s leave the troubling statistics behind and talk about some ways that we can spread some cheer and good will to our senior friends and relatives during this season of joy. Here are a few things that come to mind:
• Take an older relative out for lunch. Try to include a younger member of the family in the meal.
• Offer to help with some decorating. A simple wreath on the door or a small tabletop tree can brighten up anyone’s home.
• Ask if you can write out some holiday cards for someone who has arthritis in their hands or can’t see very well.
• Someone with vision loss might enjoy hearing you read a favorite poem or a short story with a holiday theme.
• Haul out the old family photo albums and ask your elder family members to share their favorite holiday memories with you.
• Take an older friend who no longer drives at night on a ride to see the lights and decorations in your neighborhood. Bring some hot chocolate along to sip along the way.
• If it’s a white Christmas, shovel the walk and steps for an older neighbor and leave a small plate of cookies outside their door with a card.
• Contact a nursing home in your area and ask if you could provide a small gift for a resident who has no family.
• Contribute to your local food pantry with a monetary gift or a generous bag of non-perishable items. Needy seniors and others in your neighborhood could benefit.
Reaching out to an older relative or neighbor can be a rewarding way to make you holiday season more memorable this year. Enjoy!
Blog written by Holly Deni