Expert says consider elders, shut-ins during holidays

December 1st, 2011
For most people, the holiday season is a time for celebrating, but for many, holidays can be lonely, discouraging times of isolation. Homebound elders, people with debilitating health issues, newly divided families or people who have recently lost a loved one are among the many who may feel they have little to celebrate with friends and family members.

Len Kaye, professor of social work and director of the University of Maine Center on Aging, is available to offer tips and advice to help keep elders, shut-ins and others safe, connected and engaged during the holidays.

“The holidays can bring back memories of healthier, more active, more socially enriched times in the lives of older adults and can underscore some of the harsher realities of aging including, physical decline, loss of loved ones – including family and friends – increased economic difficulty and – above all – a sense of separation or isolation from the hustle and bustle of daily life,” Kaye says.

In the case of families that have experienced death or divorce, family gatherings don’t necessarily mitigate loneliness. “Holidays can exacerbate loneliness,” he says.

Being surrounded by family or friends can even make a depressed person, young or old, feel like just a face in a crowd. In the case of a divided family, children’s loyalty to their parents can become an issue when they must decide in which home to spend a holiday.

Provided by University of Maine

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