For most adults, holidays come wrapped in memories of long-held traditions, family gatherings, high expectations and some melancholy from navigating the hustle and bustle of the season along with life’s changes.
Unfortunately for seniors, the tendency to experience holiday blues is higher as they often find themselves recalling happier times, dealing with limited mobility, pain, loss of independence, health concerns, financial constraints, changing family and community dynamics along with the passing of loved ones.
Fewer opportunities to engage with others, especially when family is out-of-area, often leads to loneliness, isolation and depression – all of which are magnified at this “magical time of year” and associated with declining mental and physical health, as well as linked to increased risk of death.
Yet, there’s so much we can do to support the seniors in our lives and communities during the holiday season (and throughout the year).
Contact your local senior center (www.CollierSeniorCenter.org), assisted living facility or nursing home to see how you can best help these organizations ensure a happier season for those in their care.
From dropping-off holiday cards signed with love and fulfilling wishes on a “giving tree” to delivering sweets or arranging for carolers, small actions can have a large impact in restoring holiday cheer for individuals who feel forgotten this time of year.
Reach-out to partners, parents, relatives, friends, neighbors, the older woman you see at the store. Most seniors are not going to ask for help, it’s up to us to provide both the support they need and company they crave.
Begin by listening. Whether they’re sharing cherished family stories or a laundry list of complaints, be attentive, accept where they are at and remind them they’re a vital part of your life, the neighborhood and community.
Whenever possible, include your aunts, uncles, neighbors in your holiday plans.
Bake a traditional family treat together, or take/send something you’ve made that’s a loving reminder of long-held traditions. Help send seasonal greetings or assist with decking the halls.
Consider inviting them to a movie/movie night, for coffee and cookies or a family dinner.
If they reside in a care facility, be sure to bring (or send) decorative touches to spruce-up personal spaces with holiday cheer. You can also add extra cookies, fruit, dreidels or ornaments for your loved one’s friends. Not only does it encourage social interaction and build community, it’s spreads holiday cheer!
If your loved one lives in the greater Naples area, encourage them to join Collier Senior Center—Golden Gate for holiday activities, fellowship, enrichment programs, wellness offerings, continuing education and basic services designed to support body, mind and spirit.
While we’ll be closed November 23 and 24 for the traditional holiday, many of our 1,800 registered members will be celebrating Thanksgiving at our annual “friends-giving” potluck, along with our November birthdays, on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 (9:00 am to 2:30 pm).
And, be sure to check-out the Calendar for information on our Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanza and New Year’s celebrations, seminars, health fairs, dance and exercise classes, art and craft programs, cards and games, support groups and more.
Collier Senior Center-Golden Gate is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding holidays), at 4898 Coronado Parkway, offering older adults and caregivers a vibrant, diverse and caring space to socialize and receive the support that empowers them to live independent and meaningful lives.
Together, we can support each other through the holidays and make new memories along the way.