Confronting the Holiday Blues in Assisted Living

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 03 December 2012

When you strip away all the hype and commercialism, the holiday season is really about sharing gifts and time with the people you love. It’s no wonder then why some seniors in assisted living dread this time of year.

Some may be reminded of the death of a spouse, sibling, friend or family member. Some may be reminded of the loss of their independence, as they must rely on family to transport them to holiday events, where they are no longer responsible for preparing the meal or hosting the family gathering. Others may be completely alone during the holidays, either because they are the only surviving member of their family, or because none of their family or friends live locally or will be in the area to visit.

Staff and volunteers who serve in assisted living should be aware of these individuals and sensitive to the difficulty of the season. Not sure what to do? Consider these simple ideas for creating moments of joy:

  1. Be a shoulder to cry on. Allow them to be sad about the losses they’re dealing with, and affirm their feelings of grief.
  2. A smile and a hug can go a long way. Seek out these seniors and make an effort to let them know they’re special, that they’re loved.
  3. Write a card. The community may have policies about exchanging gifts with residents, but a card with a personal message is something that may be treasured long after the decorations come down.
  4. Reminisce together. Ask them to share memories and stories from holidays past.


Your turn: How do/would you help a senior loved one who is dealing with loss over the holidays?


There are 2 Comments about this post

  1. Michelle, you and I are thinking along the same lines, because my newest post is also on this topic. A couple of ideas I would add are giving a senior space and permission to withdraw from the holiday festivities if they need to, and offering opportunities to commemorate the ones they have lost by creating an ornament or lighting a candle in their memory.


    on 05 December 2012 / 2:18 PM

  2. Those are both terrific ideas, Rachelle. Thanks for sharing them! I’ll have to head over to your blog to see your post too…


    on 05 December 2012 / 3:03 PM


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