Page 2 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - December 2017 - 24-12
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Page 2 Senior Times - December 2017
By: Tim Mitchell, Grant Coordinator, CentraCare
The holiday season is here! Christmas music began before Halloween and Christmas parades, decorations, and retail bargains were already running at full throttle online and in the brick and mortar stores before the Thanks- giving table was set. Hallmark movies are consuming the television watching of masses of traditional people who still believe in the magic of the season.
Outside of the pushing and shoving that takes place at the malls and retail stores, Christmas is one of the most joyful times of the year! Or is it? It all depends on who you ask. While most people seem to be enjoying the excitement in the air, there are a signifi- cant number of people that don’t like seeing this time of year roll around. These individu- als may see other people spending time with friends and family, and ask themselves, "Why can't that be me?" or "Why is everyone else so much happier than I am?"
If a person has a very small social circle they will likely lack opportunities for social- ization. Those feelings of disconnectedness will often compound and snowball into the ac- tual avoidance of social interactions, especial- ly around holidays. This creates an unfortunate downward spiraling because withdrawing will only make the feelings of loneliness and isola- tion much worse. While holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, for these people it may have the very opposite effect.
The term used to describe this condition with its many complex symptoms and side effects is “social isolation.” There are many people who experience this throughout the year, but it definitely becomes more pro- nounced around the holidays. People dealing with this issue report the following concerns:
• Physical symptoms – aches and pains, headaches, illness, or worsening of medical conditions.
• Mental health conditions – increased risk of depression, anxiety, paranoia, or panic attacks.
• Low energy – tiredness or lack of motiva- tion.
While there is no age barrier to social isola- tion, it stands to reason that the risk factors for experiencing these feelings become higher as we age. Holidays can also be particularly lone- ly for the elderly. As people age they start to outlive their spouses, friends, and other family members while their activity levels slow and they find themselves becoming more and more homebound. As these events unfold, it is very common for seniors to experience chronic bouts of loneliness. According to government statistics, it is estimated that nearly thirty per- cent of people over the age of sixty-five live alone and other studies have shown isolation is associated with higher rates of chronic disease, depression, dementia, and death. Again, as one might suspect, unfavorable feelings associated with isolation can become more pronounced around the holidays.
While it may feel extremely uncomfort- able, socialization is the best response to social isolation.
The holidays are great times to get out-and- about. Even if your social sphere is very small, there are great church programs around this time of year that you can enjoy and it will get you in the company of other people. Churches often offer Christmas musicals, an evening of caroling, dramatic plays, and, of course, those very special Christmas Eve services. You might just meet your new best friend at such an event. And, it’s usually always free!
Of course, family get-togethers are probably the best. If you’re a senior, take time to tell your family about past Christmases you have enjoyed, maybe even from your childhood. Bake cookies with your grandchildren, take
a drive to see Christmas lights. Maybe ring a bell for the Salvation Army or serve at a local soup kitchen. The opportunities are plentiful.
At CentraCare we consistently focus on the socialization needs of our participants as a way to address any feelings of loneliness they may be experiencing. We do our best to help them find a sense of purpose and meaning in their own lives which gives them incentive to work toward improving their overall health. This holiday season brings an opportunity to engage each of our participants in the sights and sounds of the season and hopefully relive some very special holiday memories with them. We anticipate many smiles!
As you gather for your various celebrations, may you always recognize the importance and preciousness of each family member and cher- ish the time you have together.
For dates, times, and to register, please contact Donna at (269) 441-9319
Caregivers, Are You Tired?
CentraCare’s experienced staff will lovingly care for your elderly loved one at our Battle Creek Day Center location to give you relief. At NO CHARGE* to you! WE PROVIDE: Transportation, Nutritious Meal & Snack, Socialization, Assistance with Personal Care, and Cognitively Stimulating Activities.
200 W. Michigan Avenue | Battle Creek, MI 49017 | 269-441-9300 | *Funds for this program are made available through a grant from the Calhoun County Senior Millage and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation

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