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The holidays are an exciting time of the year when families and friends come together to celebrate. With all the excitement during the holidays, there is also a lot of loneliness and isolation, especially among seniors. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors have felt increasingly lonely and isolated during the holidays due to many factors from illness, living arrangements, passing of loved ones and friends, and the overall process of aging.

The psychological impact of loneliness and isolation is profound, as well as, the physical effects. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that isolated seniors are at a higher risk of developing depression. The physical effects of loneliness are linked to a number of health problems from dementia, compromised immune system, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular risks. Unfortunately, these effects are sometimes missed by healthcare professionals and seniors are less likely to admit their loneliness and isolation to their provider.

There are ways seniors can mitigate the effects of isolation during the holidays by following the below tips:

Connect with Friends and Family: If family is too far away or you’re unable to visit them this holiday season find alternative ways to stay connected through video and phone calls. Using video calls is a great alternative to seeing family and friends.

Local Events: Check out local events at places of worship, recreation centers, libraries, museums, and theaters for events.

Try a new hobby: Search for local art, cooking, or yoga classes where you can meet new people and feel connected through a hobby.

Meeting new people can help foster lifelong relationships and fill the void during the holiday season. As the population ages it is more important than ever to connect and share life experiences with your family friends. Happy Holidays!