Help Aging Parents Feel Less Lonely in Winter

December 29, 2014

Loneliness can be a problem during winter months.

Many aging parents and other seniors are alone for significant portions of time. While such individuals may possess highly valued independence, they may also have limited ability to travel outside the home unaided, especially during winter weather when snow and ice make both walking and driving more challenging – and potentially dangerous.

Regular social interaction is important for aging parents’ health, both physical and mental. For caregivers who do not live with their senior relatives, it can be difficult to be physically present often enough during the cold weather months, especially during the busy holiday season from November through the beginning of the new year.

In order to help stave off loneliness in aging parents and other seniors, caregivers are encouraged to try a few of these tips.

  • Make plans to visit – and keep them. If a senior is left alone for most of the day, he or she greatly appreciates the time when a caregiver arrives. This is especially true when weather prevents others from stopping in. Caregivers should set up definite times when they will come over – and then, weather permitting, make sure they visit at that time. It can be very depressing for a senior to look forward to a visit only to have it cancelled at the last minute.
  • Bring along a friend. As long as one is going to Mother’s house, why not stop by and pick up Aunt Betty or Mother’s good friend who lives on the way? A new face can be a treat for aging parents, especially when social opportunities are limited.
  • Ask a neighbor to help. Many seniors have lovely neighbors who may be willing to drop by and visit – but who may need to be asked to do so. Caregivers can ask those neighbors who seem like good candidates to help out by dropping in for a cup of tea every so often. Some may even have children who are willing to shovel a sidewalk or do other chores that make it easier for the senior to at least go outside for a breath of fresh air now and then.
  • Hire a little help. When family members are rushing around during the holidays, they may need a little time off themselves; if they’re in a position to hire a caregiver to look after a senior for part of the time, both the senior and the family caregiver can benefit.

Winter weather doesn’t have to bring social isolation for aging parents. Taking a few extra steps in this area can make a big difference.

Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

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