“There’s no place like home for the holidays.”
For many of our patients, this tune doesn’t ring as true as it once did. One AARP Foundation survey found that over 1 in 4 seniors experiences loneliness during the holidays.
As a home health caregiver, you understand that supporting your patient’s mental health is supporting their physical health. In a season that can feel isolating, you can bring holiday cheer to patients. You can remind them that they have someone who cares about them, even when the days grow colder and darker.
That’s what Home Health Companions is all about.
Loneliness in Seniors During the Holidays: Understanding How the Holidays Can Affect Your Patients
As we know, the holidays aren’t so “holly jolly” for everyone. Understanding loneliness in seniors during the holidays can help build your empathy and compassion for your patients as a caregiver:
- Grief – No matter your patient’s circumstances, they’re likely no stranger to grief. From friends to family, the holidays can feel especially lonely without those they love most.
- Alzheimer’s Disease – The holidays can be overwhelming and disorienting for patients with Alzheimer’s. This can be a difficult time for them and their families.
- Depression – About 5% of the population experiences Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The colder, darker weather can worsen feelings of grief, depression, and loneliness in seniors during the holidays.
- Sickness & Anxiety – Seniors can be more vulnerable to illnesses in the winter. The fear around their health can increase stress and cause them to feel isolated as they take safety precautions.
- Disappointment – As we age, the holidays can feel a bit less magical. This can bring great disappointment and loneliness in seniors during the holidays, especially for those who won’t see their loved ones this year.
How to Bring Holiday Cheer to Patients & Relieve Loneliness in Seniors
As a home health caregiver, you make more of a difference than you might realize. While you don’t have to single-handedly combat these holiday obstacles, you can help make their burdens a bit lighter. With some thought and intention, you can spark joy and bring holiday cheer to patients in the comfort of their homes.
Here are 8 ideas for serving your patients and reducing loneliness in seniors during the holidays:
Learn about their favorite holiday memories and traditions.
The joy of the holidays is often found in nostalgia and memories. Ask your patient about their favorite holiday traditions throughout the years. Here are a few festive questions you might ask to bring holiday cheer to patients:
- What is your favorite holiday song?
- What is your favorite holiday movie?
- What is your favorite (and least favorite!) holiday food or dessert?
- What were the holidays like when you were a kid?
- What is one of the best gifts you’ve ever received?
From here, you can offer to play their favorite song or put on their favorite movie to bring holiday cheer to patients. If they are not cognitively able to have this conversation, consider asking their loved ones some of these questions. Listening to nostalgic music can often help those with Alzheimer’s feel comforted and calm.
Share your holiday favorites.
Consider sharing your holiday traditions and memories with your patient! Play your favorite song, describe your childhood memories, and even offer to share your favorite holiday recipe. Sharing their memories and learning about yours can help them feel connected to you as their caregiver during the season.
Deck the halls!
Make their home feel warm and cozy by offering to help with any simple, low-maintenance indoor decorations. This can be as simple as putting a garland on the table setting or bringing holiday cheer to patients with a card to put on their bedside.
Let them know how much you care.
Remind your patient how much they are loved and cared for this season and always. Write a simple note sharing how grateful you are to know them as their caregiver, and wish them a Happy Holiday.
Turn up the Jingle Bell Rock!
Music is the universal language of joy and togetherness. Offer to turn on some soft holiday music during your visit to help lighten and brighten their mood.
Give the gift of listening.
A listening ear is one of the greatest gifts you can give your patients as a caregiver. Don’t forget to check in and truly see how they’re doing. Hold space for them to open up about the stress, grief, and loneliness of the holidays. Of course, respect their privacy, as well. Allow them to open up on their terms. As they do, you can receive insight into their needs while they can feel more seen and heard.
Take and communicate health precautions.
Health and sickness can add another layer of stress to your patients this time of year. Adhere to all of the precautions required by Home Health Companions caregivers, and communicate these to your patient to provide comfort.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself.
The holidays can be a stressful time of year for you and your patients. Take time for your personal self-care. As you take care of your personal needs, you can have a greater capacity to take care of others.
Bring Holiday Cheer to Patients with Home Health Companions
Home health caregivers, nurses, and CNAs — you make a difference far greater than you can ever imagine. You not only have the opportunity to bring holiday cheer to patients, but you remind them that they’re not alone. This is at the heart of everything we do at Home Health Companions. We’re inspired by your dedication to bringing hope and light all year round.
Ready to join a team that truly cares? Find meaning and motivation for your career with competitive pay, incredible benefits, and continuing education opportunities that home health professionals deserve. Explore our openings and benefits here!
Happy Holidays from our team to you!