Every year the holidays approach us like a stop sign that we narrowly saw, forcing us to slam on the breaks with just enough time to stop before racing through it. How did that happen we ask ourselves? It was just June and you may have made a mental note to get ready leisurely this year, but, low and behold, here it is the end of October and nothing has been done.
Sometimes, the joy that you should be feeling just isn't there. The family is spread out all over the country and you don't have a strong social network where you live. It can be the loneliest time of the year for some elderly people. Many elderly people are socially isolated, with some having mobility issues, no longer driving and spending much too much time alone at home watching television all day. They have so much time on their hands that they can get too lost in their own thoughts, removing them more and more from the value that social interaction of any kind can provide. They lack the sense of community that once was. In fact, in many cases, it was their home that was once the hub for the family to visit and participate in all of the festivities of the holiday season. Now, from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve, they are left to fend for themselves and for them, one is truly a lonely number.
Every community has resources that enhance the social network of seniors and the elderly, but, it just becomes overwhelming for some people to try to tap into them. There are senior centers where people can go to spend the day and engage in lectures, card games, day trips and lunch, but for some, it's still not enough. That's when the idea of actually moving to a senior living community can be the best option. Depending on the individual's physical needs, there are various options, such as independent living, where the person handles his or her own personal care, but thrives in the hotel-style setting that provides meals, activities, entertainment and transportation. Whether or not, the elderly person is a 'social' person, there are residents, staff members and opportunities to be with other people and interact throughout the day. If the elderly person needs personal care, they can choose assisted living where all of the services of independent living are provided as well as assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming, assistance with self-administration of medication, help with transferring and transportation to doctors, restaurants and shopping malls. Some people are independent enough, but just need one or two services with personal care. There are some independent living communities that can provide ancillary services, which allows the elderly person to age in place and not move to assisted living. There are many options.
The biggest factor in making the decision to stay at home and engage in outside activities depends on the person's ability to be mobile. If they have no way to get around, they will have no incentive to leave their home. With all of the options available to seniors and the elderly today, nobody should be a shut in and have to bear a deep abiding loneliness that can cause depression, poor nutrition and dehydration. Holiday time is a fun time. If you see a senior who you suspect may be going through this, say something.