The holidays can be a lonely time of year for aging seniors. Decreased mobility, fewer loved ones with whom to celebrate, and changing neighborhoods can make spending time with friends and family during the holiday season difficult. According to the National Poll on Healthy Aging[1], in 2023, one in three adults aged 50-80 (34%) reported feeling isolated from others in the past year. Living alone isn’t the same as feeling lonely, but these seniors may be more at risk of experiencing loneliness. The CDC [2] states that social isolation and loneliness have become widespread problems in the United States, posing a severe threat to our mental and physical health and have been linked to increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and increased risk of early mortality, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, the holiday season intensifies these feelings and can increase the associated health risks. That’s why companionship is so important for aging adults. We want to provide ideas and resources for helping aging seniors navigate the holidays and understand how to combat feelings of loneliness this season – and how home care providers can help.

During the Holidays

The time frame between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve is typically filled with parties, events, and celebrations among family and friends. Here are a few ways to include aging loved ones in the festivities.

Bring together young and old

Offer to bring elderly loved ones to your child’s holiday parade, classroom party, or concert. Spending time with the youngest family members is often what brings seniors the most joy, and seeing their little faces light up warms their hearts like little else can.

Homemade holidays

Many seniors are on a tight budget, so packaging sweets to give to family and friends can be an inexpensive way to participate in gift-giving. If you’re hosting a baking day, invite grandparents to join you or ask each participant to bake an extra dozen to give to an aging relative. Kids – especially the younger ones – tend to bring a lot of arts and crafts home during the holidays – consider sharing some of these with grandparents or elderly neighbors. Receiving homemade crafts from little ones is a great way to let them know they’re in your thoughts.

Season’s greetings

Sending holiday cards isn’t as much a part of the season as it was a generation ago. That can be difficult for aging seniors whose only connections with some family and friends come through this tradition each year. Over the years, they might receive fewer and fewer cards, and those they do receive can bring sad news. Have each family member make and send a holiday card, photograph, or drawing so your loved one has more cards to open and read. If possible, ask your loved one to set aside any holiday cards she receives so that you can open them together. Play holiday music and encourage your loved one to share stories about each person from whom they receive a card.

Holiday lights

Next to retail displays, seeing Christmas lights pop up around neighborhoods is likely the first sign of the approaching holidays. Consider taking your aging loved ones on a drive to check them out, whether at a local park or through neighborhoods close to home. This is a safe, fun way to get seniors – even those with mobility issues – out to enjoy the season. If you plan to go caroling, add their home as a stop along the way or videotape the event so that seniors can enjoy hearing the carols any time.

Time together

The most important thing you can do is spend time with aging loved ones during this time of year. Look at family photos, watch home videos or holiday movies, listen to seasonal music, bake treats, or do crafts. Whatever you decide to do together, any time you can spend with an aging loved one is a gift they’ll treasure.

Home care help

Home care providers can offer transportation or help secure public transport so that aging family members can participate in events outside their neighborhood. They can also help schedule visits so unannounced visitors don’t catch elderly people off guard.

With all the celebrating at this time of year, it can be more challenging to eat healthy, exercise, and avoid too much alcohol. Home care providers can also help aging seniors get the appropriate amount of exercise, prepare healthful meals, and avoid an overabundance of the tempting treats that typically come along with the season.

After the Holidays

One in four Americans [3] suffers from some form of depression after the holidays. The post-holiday blues can be even more pronounced in those living alone. After all the excitement has died down, remember to check in on elderly loved ones. If you don’t live close by, consider scheduling a time each week to call so that they can look forward to speaking with you.

Volunteering can give seniors a sense of purpose, make them feel a part of the community, and have a positive impact on their overall wellness [4]. Charities tend to receive the most significant amount of donations and volunteers during the holiday season. Still, once the New Year celebration has come and gone, these organizations face a lack of help. Encourage seniors to volunteer if able. Schools, churches, community centers, local food pantries, and other non-profit organizations are all great places to start.

Home care help

When you can’t be there, a home care provider can fill in with much-needed companionship and care. In addition to offering transportation, they can also ensure seniors are safe while at home with someone who can help them navigate slippery surfaces and steps.

Thinking Ahead to Next Year

These days, it seems as though stores go from promoting Back to School to putting up Holiday displays in the blink of an eye. There’s little time to settle into Pumpkin Spice season before we’re reminded to start buying gifts and decorating the house. For lonely seniors, this only serves to create depression or loneliness that much sooner: missing loved ones who’ve passed away, old neighborhood friends who’ve moved on, or grown children with busy lives of their own. Including seniors in some of your activities leading up to the holidays can help to combat these feelings.

As the seasons change and colder weather settles in, think about how you can help aging family members prepare for the winter months and the holidays. Invite aging family members or neighbors to help give out candy on Halloween or stop by before dark so young family members can show off their costumes. When rain turns to ice and snow, drop by to clear off and salt sidewalks and driveways. If you’ll be hosting Thanksgiving, consider extending an invitation to elderly family members of your guests. Invite elderly friends and family over in the days after Thanksgiving to help decorate the Christmas tree or make time to help them put up some simple decorations in their own homes.

Home care help

Home care providers can provide year-round assistance with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, and taking care of household chores. Seniors who are Veterans or surviving spouses of Veterans may be eligible for the Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit[5], which can be used to help offset the cost of home care services. This may be especially helpful to the more than 30% of Veteran care recipients[6] who have no health insurance or regular source of health care.

Veterans Care Coordination’s mission is to improve the quality of life for Veterans and their families by making it easier for them to age at home.  We’re focused on ensuring that aging seniors are cared for not only throughout the holiday season but all year. long

Updated December 2023








About Kyle Laramie, Founder & CEO

Kyle founded Veterans Care Coordination in April 2011. As its founder and CEO of VCC, Kyle is driven by the memory of his grandfather, a World War II Veteran who unnecessarily missed out on essential VA benefits because Kyle’s family wasn’t aware of available opportunities. In recognition of his impact in leadership, Kyle was named to the St. Louis Business Journal’s prestigious “40 Under 40” list and St. Louis Small Business Monthly’s “100 St. Louisans to Know” in 2014. VCC was named a St. Louis Small Business Monthly “Top 20” small business and a finalist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch Top Workplace (2015-2022), St. Louis Business Journal Best Place to Work (2019 & 2022), and the Arcus Awards (2014). The team has served more than 14,000 Veteran clients and their families. Kyle frequently speaks on Veterans’ benefits, addressing conferences such as the Home Care Association of America and Decision Health. He is passionate about giving back and has built a charitable-minded organization that supports various philanthropic efforts.