Lifting The After-Christmas Let-Down– 6 Suggestions (updated 2012)

Understanding and Lifting Aging Parents’
After-Christmas Let-Down

What happens after an event takes place that we’ve been anticipating–hearing about well in advance? We are left with the emotional residue–wonderful or not so wonderful, depending. No matter the event, it happens (present tense). Then it’s over. Ended. Done.

The day (and week) after Christmas.  The media’s holiday focus on family togetherness, generating warm fuzzy feelings and a celebratory spirit aimed at making people feel good, ends. The media then calls attention to the past, generating pleasant or unpleasant memories; we are encouraged to improve ourselves by making New Year’s resolutions. Isn’t it easy to see how the end of the holidays can intensify feelings of emptiness and of loneliness in seniors living alone? And the fact that it’s winter, and it’s colder, and it gets dark earlier doesn’t help.

Can adult children elevate that let down feeling? “Yes,” according to our senior advisors, who offer 4 suggestions (I’ve added a 5th and 6th):

  • “Stay in close contact with elders–aunts, uncles. Make sure they’re not forgotten or feeling abandoned.”
  • Make a phone call; it doesn’t need to be a visit. I had a wonderful phone call from a far-away living relative recently. You know, older people prefer phone calls instead of emails.”
  • “Take older people out to something, but take them to something that is rather quiet, that isn’t too taxing an experience.” 
  •  “Make a plan for the future so there’s something to look forward to.” Sr. Advisor, R, calls that “a carrot,” and says it keeps her going.
  • When old people receive new technology (eg. iPad/notebook) that fosters keeping in touch, contact them often at the beginning through that technology. Older people need the practice in order to feel comfortable with new technology. Also you will quickly discover if they need more help. 

I remember the advice given me by a priest I interviewed for my divorce book years ago. He emphasized the importance of touching base on a regular basis with people we care about– whether or not they are facing challenges or need us in their lives.

To this end, he wrote on his calendar at regular intervals “phone so-and-so,” putting in names and telephone numbers. He said it was the only way he could be certain of regularly continuing the connections.

It’s rarely lack of caring that prevents us from doing something additional on a regular basis. More likely we just get busy and forget. So…I guess we need to take out our new calendars or whatever technology we use; put in a few names and numbers of our older, living-alone friends and family; then make at least one phone call before New Year’s Eve……at which time I’ll return with my last post for 2012.

Related articles

Note: “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals–plus some practical articles –to help parents age well.

The Day After Christmas

Saturday, December 26, 2009
The Day After Christmas–also see 2010 update: The After-Christmas Let-Down
https://helpparentsagewell.com/2010/12/26/the-day-after-christmas-3/

What happens after an event that we’ve been anticipating–hearing about well in advance–takes place? No matter the event, it happens (present tense). Then it’s over. Ended. Done. And we are left with the emotional residue–wonderful or not so wonderful, depending.

When it’s something we’ve been dreading, it’s no doubt an emotional relief to have it over. When it’s something we’ve looked forward to, and it meets or exceeds our expectations, we may be filled with happiness and wish it could last. But since it can’t, we can feel sad, or it’s a “let down.”

The day after Christmas suggests such an ending and it’s not uncommon for people who enjoy the festivities to have an emotional response. When aging parents have busy lives the holidays don’t necessarily fill a void, rather they are a welcome addition to an already busy schedule. When parents live alone, however, and don’t have a busy life, the void left when the holidays end can intensify feelings of emptiness and of being alone. And the fact that winter weather sets in and it gets dark earlier doesn’t help.

Can adult children inflate that let down feeling? Yes. First, refer to this past Tuesday’s post and reread the three suggestions. Next, use your 2010 technology/calendar to ensure the three suggestions aren’t forgotten.

I am remembering the advice given to me by a priest interviewed for my divorce book years ago. He talked about the importance of touching base on a regular basis with people we care about when they face challenges or need us in their lives. To this end, he wrote on his calendar at regular intervals–daily, twice weekly, weekly, monthly etc. etc.–“phone so-and-so,” putting their telephone numbers next to their names. He said it was the only way he could be certain of regularly continuing the connection. That advice turned out to be helpful for me at certain times with my counselees and their parents. It’s rarely lack of interest that prevents us from doing something additional on a regular basis. More likely we just get busy and forget.

So once again I guess we need to be thinking about picking up the phone–after we take out our 2010 calendar or whatever technology we use and write in a few names and numbers of our older, living alone friends and possibly even our parents.
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For an additional idea that adds upbeat short-or-long-as-you-want-to-make-it stimulation for older people before the New Year begins click the link above.