LAS VEGAS (KLAS)— This may be the most wonderful time of the year, but for many seniors, it could be the loneliest.
Though the holidays for many are family-oriented, it is hard to keep the holiday spirit up when there isn’t much family around.
Sheila Zachea, who is 76 years old, told 8 News Now this is the time of year she dreads, but she didn’t always feel this way.
“Just the noise would be on another level,” Zachea said.
That would be a typical Christmas gathering for Zachea with her late husband Loui’s family.
Sometimes the crowd would get lucky and hear Loui play his accordion.
“He would say ‘oh I can’t play that’ then all of a sudden there it goes,” Zachea said.
But now it is so quiet in her house, one could hear a pin drop.
She went from having a giant Christmas tree to a small one.
This is Zachea’s new normal for the holidays after Loui passed away in 2018.
“When you are a senior, you have a lot of life to give, but you’re like the elf on the shelf they know you are there, but they don’t pick up the phone and give you a call,” Zachea said.
Zachea is one of the thousands of seniors alone during the holidays.
“You do tend to throw a lot of pity parties which is not good for depression,” she said.
According to the National Council On Aging, feeling lonely or isolated is as dangerous to your body as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
However, help is out there.
The Jewish Family Service Agency (JFSA) has a senior companionship program for anyone in the valley.
“Where a senior volunteer goes out and becomes a friend to our more isolated seniors in the community,” Lisa Popovsky, director of senior services for JFSA, told 8 News Now.
Sometimes having a friend could go a long way.
“I’m sure if there was a lady out there who would like to go to lunch with me, I would give her a call in a flat minute,” Zachea said.
Below is a list of resources for seniors experiencing loneliness during the holidays:
- The Jewish Family Service Agency: (702) 732-0304
- Black Mountain Recreation Center and Aquatic Complex: (702) 267-2323
- Centennial Hills Active Adult Center: (702) 229-1702
- Cora Coleman Sunrise Senior Center and Adult Activity Pool: (702) 455-7617
- Doolittle Senior Center: (702) 229-6327
- Durango Hills Community Center/YMCA: (702) 240-9622
- East Las Vegas Community CENTER: (702) 229-1515