READING, Pa. - Seniors spending the holidays alone is not unique to this year. Experts said the pandemic is just now pulling the wool away from our eyes.
"They weren't saying, 'You know, when 80 or 91 or whatever, I hope to be homebound, isolated and alone.' It's what happens to us sometimes. It's not always by choice," said LuAnn Oatman, the president and CEO of Reading-based Berks Encore.
But, for certain, there will be families who, for the first time, won't have their family's matriarch or patriarch over for Thanksgiving in an effort to protect them from exposure to COVID-19. Oatman said a Zoom, FaceTime or phone call can go a long way.
"Let them talk. Please let them talk about how lonely they feel," said Oatman. "We want to say, 'Well, you shouldn't feel that way,' but they do."
In other cases, some seniors may have recently entered a hospital, assisted living or rehab facility and are still in quarantine and can't make it home or have visitors. Oatman said she urges families to get creative and advocate for connection.
"Contact that assisted living facility or rehab center or wherever they are," Oatman said, "and ask them, 'What can I do?' Maybe, 'We're going to bring all the members of the family over at 3 o'clock, out on the outside lawn. Could you have mom or dad at the window? We want to wave up to them.'"
Oatman added that it's important to remind yourself why some of us must remain apart this year.
"My mom used to tell me growing up, 'Not everything you have to do is going to be something that you like,'" Oatman shared.