The winter holiday season is upon us! Houses are being decorated with lights, seasonal drinks are warming our hands, and family and friends are making plans to be together for celebrations despite the cold weather. Unfortunately, this picturesque scene is not the reality for many older adults in our communities. In the midst of what should be a time of joy, feelings of social isolation can actually increase over the holidays and this is especially true for seniors.
For many people Christmas is a time for memories and traditions, but it is inevitable for us to compare the way things were and how they are now. Seniors without family or with limited ability to travel and visit their families, due to perhaps a physical condition or limited funds, may feel an increased sense of loneliness and isolation. It’s also harder for seniors to venture out of the house in winter when the streets can be icy and treacherous. For some, the holidays end up being a painful reminder of their smaller social circle, loss of close friends and family, and loss of engagement in holiday activities.
Gayle Harper, our Seniors Centre Without Walls Program Assistant noticed there were many seniors in this situation. As a senior working everyday with isolated seniors over the phone, she noted the concerns and realities of participants going into the month of December. “You can only look at so many Christmas specials on TV or watch so many Christmas baking challenges until you start to feel like your world has just shrunk to where you live and your television set,” she said. “If we shut down during that time, like a lot of programs do, people would not have the opportunity to engage, just to have friendly conversation and fun times and laugh.”
With the holidays coming up, addressing senior loneliness and isolation is a high priority to many in our community. However, many services such as day programs, community centres, and medical offices are closed for the holidays, which adds to seniors’ sense of loneliness. In response, the Seniors Centre Without Walls decided to take action and provide some companionship and holiday spirit this year. Thanks to Gayle’s generosity and hard work, we will be running special telephone programming from Dec. 22 through Jan. 2 with daily afternoon sessions.
View a printable version of the Seniors’ Centre Without Walls Holiday Program 2017.
If you or someone you know would like to stay socially connected during the holidays, give us a call at 780-395-2626 to join the holiday program or receive more information.
Our regular programming will start up again January 4 and runs year-round. To learn more, watch the video below.
Written by Heather Drouin, Project Coordinator, Seniors’ Centre Without Walls