By Nicole Long, MSW, LICSW,
CEO of Old Colony Elder Services
Managing Stress and Feelings of Loneliness During the Holidays
The holidays can be a very stressful time of year. For some, it can be a time of reflection of “days gone by,” which can bring about feelings of loneliness or sadness. Older adults and individuals who are grieving may be particularly vulnerable to these feelings. The holidays may become overwhelming. As a result, some may withdraw and avoid social interaction. Although avoidance is the path of least resistance, it’s important to maintain social connections.
The Importance of Connecting with Others
Reaching out for support and companionship is key. Even if distance or circumstance separate you from family members and friends, try to maintain those connections. Reach out by telephone, video call, email, text, or social media. Setting a date to meet in person in the near future gives you something to look forward to and creates a positive plan.
There are several ways to connect with others in your community. Many older adults visit the senior center or Council on Aging (COA) to connect with peers. Consider taking a class or participating in the variety of activities and events that are offered onsite. Need transportation assistance in getting there? Contact the COA and inquire about its transportation options.
OCES offers Community Dining meals Monday through Friday at local COAs and housing sites; these provide opportunities to socialize in addition to nutritious noontime meals.
Older adults who are homebound and unable to attend a Community Dining meal site may arrange to receive Meals on Wheels delivered to their home. Home-delivered meals provide an important connection to the community while also serving as a safety check.
Take on a new hobby or join a club or group that interests you. Attend a presentation at the public library, the local nature center, or art center, such as genealogy, history, modern art, and more. From exercise classes to book clubs and presentations on a wide variety of topics, there are plenty of learning opportunities and ways to remain engaged.
Helping others is another way to improve your spirits and prevent feelings of loneliness or unhappiness. Checking in on a homebound neighbor, helping at the local community center, food pantry, animal shelter, OCES, or other nonprofit organization are all great ways of volunteering. Through volunteering, you’ll help others as well as meet new people and feel more connected to your community.
For more information about Community Dining, Meals on Wheels, volunteer opportunities and other programs offered at Old Colony Elder Services, visit ocesma.org.
About the Author: Nicole Long is the Chief Executive Officer of Old Colony Elder Services (OCES). Founded in 1974, OCES is a private, non-profit organization proudly serving greater Plymouth County and surrounding communities. OCES is designated as one of 25 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. OCES’s mission is to support the independence and dignity of older adults and individuals with disabilities by providing essential information and services that promote healthy and safe living. The agency offers a number of programs to serve older adults, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers. For more information call 508-584-1561 or visit www.ocesma.org