How to Help Seniors Have a Joyful Holiday Season


The next few months are full of twinkling lights, favorite traditions, and getting together with loved ones. As the holiday season approaches, you can be sure your older loved one has plenty of reasons to be joyful, even in the midst of any difficulties the season might bring. Your first step in bringing joy to your loved ones is understanding the challenges that might come with the season. Then, you can provide empathy while incorporating plenty of family-friendly holiday activities into your next gathering.  


Understanding Senior Depression

It’s important to note that depression is not part of aging, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of if your loved one is experiencing it during this time of year. While the holiday blues can happen to all of us, senior depression goes beyond feeling reminiscent or sad; depression affects daily life and can include symptoms like sleep disturbances, appetite changes, and isolation from family and friends.


Suppose your loved one is showing signs of depression during the holiday season. In that case, you can:

  • Monitor their mood to see if their sadness is affecting their daily life or routine
  • Schedule an appointment with their physician to talk about mental health
  • Assist with scheduling any therapy appointments or follow-up visits, including transportation if needed
  • Make sure they are keeping up with their prescription medication schedule.
  • Keep the lines of communication open and tell them they can tell you how they feel, even if they are sad or lonely.
  • Validate their feelings instead of rushing them to “get over it.”


How to Help Seniors with Loneliness

The holiday season might feel packed with events, concerts, and parties, but as you get older and your social circle shrinks, your calendar of holiday events can get pretty bare. Help your loved one feel included and less lonely by trying a few of our ideas for how to help seniors with loneliness:

  • Invite family members and friends to send holiday notes and cards to your loved one’s home address throughout December.
  • Create small get-togethers to enjoy together, such as sipping hot cocoa while watching a favorite movie or driving around the neighborhood to look at decorated houses.
  • Help your loved one throw a small party for their neighbors or friends.
  • Schedule holiday video calls with family members throughout the month and writes them on the calendar, so your loved one has something to look forward to.
  • Create a pen-pal relationship with your loved one and a younger family member. It’s an excellent way for both of them to get to know more about one another, and it’s fun to work on writing skills for the kids.
  • Volunteer to visit lonely seniors through the local Meals on Wheels program together.


Family-Friendly Holiday Activities for Seniors

Finally, the holidays are full of family gatherings. Make the most of your time together by planning holiday activities for seniors that anyone of any age will enjoy. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Have a hot cocoa bar with a crockpot full of hot chocolate and all the toppings. Include traditional ones like marshmallows and whipped cream and some new ones like cinnamon sticks or crushed peppermint candies.
  • Decorate cookies together. To make the process smoother, consider baking the cookies in advance and then using the time together to decorate them.
  • Host a gingerbread house decorating contest where each group decorates a pre-built home. Have a guest judge, like a favorite neighbor, come over and choose their favorite.
  • Make a holiday craft together where everyone makes the same craft to take home. Good ideas for this are holiday wreaths, painted tiny houses, or bird feeders.
  • Take a stroll to look at the holiday lights around the neighborhood. Don’t forget the hot chocolate or hot tea!
  • Create a holiday photobook or scrapbook full of favorite memories from the past. Don’t forget to leave blank pages to add to each year.
  • Make a favorite family meal together.
  • Enjoy a cozy night in. Turn on the twinkle lights and watch a favorite movie or classic holiday show with popcorn.


The holidays can bring a mix of emotions for your senior loved one. Remember to validate their feelings while inviting them into small moments of magic you can share. Happy holidays!

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