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Mental Health and the holidays: Remembering the senior community this time of year

Help make the holidays magical — not miserable — for older loved ones with tips from Enable Madison County.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — It's December, and the holiday season is in full swing. It's the time of year for good food, and good friends and family— but according to Ann Anderson, Executive Director for Enable Madison County, for many others the holiday season can remind them of just how lonely they are.

"They have been isolated so much throughout the last couple of years and they live in isolation," Anderson shares. "Exactly, we have 767 clients who live alone. So, when you live alone, that's one thing, but when you have all these external factors coming out like covid and flu and everything, and you have an average client who has 3.3 chronic illnesses, they have even become more sheltered, more isolated and feel really alone. They feel that they're alone and they're forgotten."

A quarter of adults 65 and over are considered socially isolated, and a “significant portion” of older adults in the U.S. report feeling lonely, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. And the American Psychological Association notes that during the holidays, those numbers may be amplified, thanks to the “holiday blues,” which can cause irritability, fatigue and sadness. 

Knowing how to care for and support your older loved ones in small ways can help reduce some of that loneliness and help you connect with them on a deeper level.

"You can learn so much from our elderly, but you know, it's out of sight, out of mind," Anderson shares. "We seem to forget that they still want to be engaged, but we have to initially initiate that engagement."

Taking time out to give back to seniors can make all the difference and Anderson shares a few tips on how to make the senior in your life or community feel the Christmas joy.

"So, you don't have to spend a lot of money because they don't need a lot of things," Anderson shares. "You can buy postcards, send them cards, drop by and visit them. The best gift is a visit face to face. At least, if you can't be face to face, call and check on them and that shouldn't be just at Christmas or the holidays.

Enable of Madsion County is doing their part this season by delivering food and sitting in with the elderly. If you would like to get more information on how you can support, please visit their Facebook

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