There’s a magic alchemy to the holiday season, some kind of diffuse miracle that transforms the darkest, longest, and coldest nights of the year into some of the warmest and happiest. That miracle, that warmth, is the thrill of being surrounded by the people we love and the friendly goodwill abundant on the bustling city streets.
That’s not, unfortunately, the holiday experience for everyone. For many older adults, this is a season of amplified feelings of loneliness and isolation—millions of seniors struggle with the holidays as the hardest time of the year. Their daily, tragic isolation is magnified by the ghosts of memories, a reflection on what or who is no longer around. This sadness, and possibly regret, can be far more dangerous than we may acknowledge.
The rate of suicide for older adults, for example, is one of the highest for all age populations—an older adult dies by suicide every 100 minutes. But, there’s some evidence that these rates can actually drop during the holidays. And that’s not because of the visits of ghosts and memories past; it’s because the intervention and love of the living can make an enormous difference. There are many people who go out of their way to help older adults manage seasonal mood afflictions, and, if you’re in the Bay Area, you can do the same.
It’s the holidays, after all: what will you give?