Guest Commentary | Seniors can embrace connections and beat loneliness this Valentine’s Day
The rise in red hearts, teddy bears and boxed chocolates on display at retail stores can only mean one thing – Valentine’s Day is approaching.
Although Valentine’s Day is a universally recognized day of love, not everyone looks forward to Feb. 14. Those who have lost a life partner can experience a roller coaster of emotions on the “Hallmark Holiday.” This is especially true for widowed seniors, many of whom experience isolation and a lack of companionship on a regular basis, let alone a day when love is supposed to be the air.
Many senior living communities offer activities that are geared for supporting seniors during holidays such as Valentine’s Day. Additionally, seniors who live at home can take matters into their own hands by purposefully planning activities that will help minimize feelings of sadness or loneliness.
These four activities offer a great opportunity for seniors to surround themselves in positivity and friendship on Valentine’s Day:
• Reflect: Get together with a group of friends whose significant others have also passed away. Meet over lunch or dinner, bring out old photo albums and reflect on past moments with your spouse, such as weddings, vacations and even your most memorable Valentine’s Day. Oftentimes, reminiscing about our favorite memories helps us to feel closer to that person.
• Quality time: Take time to connect with family members, such as children, grandchildren and siblings. Set up a FaceTime or phone call to catch up on life, or even invite a family member or close friend to lunch or a cup of coffee. Connecting with family members provides happiness and love to all parties.
• Platonic love: Love and affection from friends is just as important as the romantic kind. For seniors aging at home, organizing a day with close friends provides opportunities to maintain healthy relationships. Exchange Valentine’s Day cards and complete an activity together, like watching a movie, cooking a meal or playing a game of cards. Quality time with those who make you laugh can bring a ray of joy to your day.
• Local events: Seek out Valentine’s Day events happening near you. Senior living communities often host parties and events to celebrate the holiday. Those living at home can check the local library, YMCA or church for Valentine’s Day themed events, such as trivia nights, movie screenings and speed-friending.
Celebrating Valentine’s Day without your life partner is understandably challenging. That’s why it’s important to be intentional in surrounding yourself with the love and friendship of those in your inner circle. One of the best ways to combat loneliness is through socialization. Reconnecting with old acquaintances and meeting new friends offer great opportunities to stay active, upbeat and engaged on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year.
Rachel Byrd is the Regional Manager of Florida Senior Consulting in Lee/Collier County and is licensed as a Certified Dementia Practitioner, a BC-AAP with the Activity Professionals National Credentialing Center and CORE certified as an assisted living administrator.