VOLUME 2 • NUMBER
11 • NOVEMBER 2016
Seniors and Staying Healthy for the Holidays
For people of all ages, the holiday season is a time of excitement, delight,
and warmth. However, for many aging adults, the holidays can be a particularly
challenging time of year. During the holidays, financial pressures and having
little or no family members living close by can greatly affect seniors and bring
about feelings of stress, sadness, and loneliness. Here are a few tips to help
promote a healthy life balance in mind, body, and spirit during the holidays:
- Reduce anxiety by planning ahead.
Set specific days and times for preparation, shopping, socializing, and
- Enjoy a little alone time. Take some
time each day to step away from the business of the holiday season. Breathe
deeply and clear your mind of all stressors and distractions.
- Monitor your moods. Take notice of
sustained bouts of frustration, anxiety, or sadness. Seek support from family,
friends, or a mental health professional if needed.
- Exercise regularly. Whether it's
walking laps around the mall with friends, maintaining a small herb and
vegetable garden, or going on brisk evening strolls around the neighborhood,
seniors can find creative ways to incorporate more physical activity into each
- Practice self-control. Select a few
times during the holiday season to indulge in special treats. For all other
meals and snacks, strive to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
- Give to the needy. Donate food,
clothing, or household goods to food drives, homeless shelters, and other
charities like the Salvation Army or Goodwill.
- Take up volunteer work. Give back to
your community by sharing your time and talents with others by volunteering at
local places of worship, community centers, youth organizations, hospitals, and
- Spend time with loved ones.
Reconnect with family members, friends, peers, and acquaintances from the past
by sending a letter or email, making a phone call, or sending a message over
- Invite a special guest to your
celebration. If you are attending a holiday dinner or party, ask the host if
it's fine to bring a friend or neighbor who has no one to celebrate with.
A Message from Dr. Marco
Dr. Noah Marco, Chief Medical Officer
Seniors in particular, are extremely vulnerable to the feelings of being unneeded. These feelings can be especially prominent throughout the holiday season. During this special time, visits from family and friends can help play a big part making sure seniors are happy and healthy. Loved ones can take advantage of this prime opportunity to provide seniors with the much-needed mental stimulation and companionship they need. Opportunities include asking seniors to help with holiday gift card preparation, wrapping gifts, making homemade gifts, or even taking them to volunteer at food distribution centers or events for the homeless. Visitors can also be an additional source, with health care professionals, to observe for the early warning signs of holiday stress and exacerbation of medical issues. Pay close attention to a senior's environment, physical appearance, and temperament. Look for changes from their typical baseline. Listen for complaints around missing loved ones, hoping not to live much longer, or simply an expression of not feeling worthwhile.
In an article published earlier this month in the New York Times, the Dalai Lama quotes 13th-century Buddhist sages, "If one lights a fire for others, it will also brighten one's own way." During the holiday season where our days are short and our nights are long, please help the seniors you know light their own fires. Nothing shines brighter more than the reflection off a senior's smile.