My husband, during a period of time that he lived abroad in Europe, used to call his widowed grandmother once monthly. At that time, international calls cost a lot and he didn’t have much money.
So, the conversations always ended long before Grandma Campbell was ready to stop talking!
Bud tells me that sometimes he had to finally just talk over her and say, “I’ve got to go, now, Grandma. Bye!”
I’ll bet you’ve had some kind of experience yourself with an elderly senior who lived alone and when given the chance to chat, just couldn’t stop.
The Baltimore Sun published this story last year:
About 29 percent of people age 65 or older live alone, according to the Administration on Community Living, an agency established in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to encourage housing choice and community support for older Americans and people with disabilities.
Interaction with others is crucial to positive emotional health. Isolation is associated with higher rates of chronic disease, depression, dementia and death, various studies have shown. Prolonged isolation can be as bad for health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according research published last year in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Detrimental feelings associated with isolation can become more pronounced around the holidays, given the emphasis on celebrating with friends and families…[i]
Seniors may top the list but they are not the only lonely people during the holiday season. So, here’s one good way you could really help someone get through the holidays. Take a minute – ok, well, maybe 10 minutes in some cases – to stop and chat. Just listen. It does not really have to take long.
The important thing: grant someone five or ten minutes of your undivided attention.
My husband likes to say, “Most people don’t distinguish between the feeling of being heard and the feeling of being loved.”
For some – those experiencing depression, living alone, or remembering the anniversary of a lost loved one – and others like them, no present will exceed the gift of a few minutes time listening to their heart.
That’s my very simple challenge for you this week. In the midst of your own busyness, you may encounter someone hurting. Perhaps even a little difficult. Someone “feebleminded”. Perhaps someone down on their luck or simply feeling blue.
Help them get through the holiday season simply by taking a minute to truly stop, attend fully to them, and above all, hear them.
It may be the best present they receive this Christmas.