BY JOSH MROZINSKI
Asked Friday as she played cards with friends at a senior center in Eaton Township about what it would be like to spend Christmas alone, the 80-year-old Tunkhannock woman, said, “I wouldn’t want to think about it.”
Unfortunately, some senior citizens do spend the holidays alone and care providers are encouraging companionship so that depression and other health issues do not occur.
According to the state Bureau of Aging, about 18.8 million Americans experience depressive disorders.
“Many older persons live alone and if they are not included in family or community gatherings they may feel alone and isolated,” aging department spokeswoman Michele Gopinath said. “It is important for neighbors, families and friends to visit older person in their communities.”
She noted that older persons often find themselves reminiscing about times gone by, as well as friends and family members.
Recognizing the need for companionship for senior citizens, some organizations hope to extend their programs, such as Interfaith Friends.
Interfaith employees now visit six senior citizens in personal care homes and five in residences.
During visits, senior citizens are brought fruit baskets and other gifts, such as lotions.
Interfaith’s Executive Director Pat Ehrenzeller said that senior citizens who participate in the program are happy that, “somebody cared enough to stop in and see how they were doing.”
The senior center in Eaton Township was open on Monday (Christmas Eve) and has many activities, including games, according to director Penny Cruttenden.
And on Tuesday, the Seven Loaves Soup Kitchen in Tunkhannock Borough was open 4-5:30 p.m.
Cruttenden said that it is important senior citizens socialize throughout the year, especially during the holiday season, which is “high-time for depression.”
She added that it may be difficult for some senior citizens during this time of year who have lost a spouse.
Spending time alone also can simply be boring, according to Comiskey and other senior citizens at the center on Friday.
“How much cleaning can you do when you live alone,” she asked?