Santa for Seniors: A growing class of senior citizens long for holiday joy

Melissa Holmes|@LissaCHolmes Staff Writer

GLEN ROSE - In 2013, 44.7 million people in the United States were over the age of 65 and it is projected that by 2060 there will be 98 million older people represented. With the senior population growing, social isolation is a concern. Due to the living alone, lack of family in the area and age related losses, many older people experience loneliness - especially around the holidays.

To help spread holiday joy to seniors this year, Glen Rose Medical Center (GRMC) has partnered with Glen Rose Nursing and Rehab and MW Supply to organize a gift drive benefiting the senior citizens of Somervell County. GRMC’s public relations and community education coordinator, Lisa Anderson, wanted to create an event similar to Toys for Tots, but for the older generation, since a majority of them are usually home-bound during the holidays.

Loneliness and social isolation can cause poor mental and physical health in the elderly, which could lead to an earlier death. Anderson said that the gift items they are requesting is to help keep the mind active in the seniors. Research conducted by The National Institutes of Health suggest that brain training exercises and activities can help seniors maintain cognitive functions. When seniors actively exercise their brains they are more capable of maintaining control over everyday activities, such as driving and money management, that promote independence. Research has also found that seniors who read, write, complete crossword puzzles and other challenging games were less likely to develop brain plaques that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Once the items are collected, Anderson and a representative from Glen Rose Nursing and Rehab, will ride along with Meals on Wheels and drop off the items to the elderly. Meals on Wheels usually hands out meals to 40-50 people, but Anderson said they are looking to fill at least 80 bags with supplies to pass out to addition seniors, that could benefit from the packages.

The following items are being requested for donation:

Spiral or composition notebooks, colorful pens/pencils, markers, adult coloring books, paint by number kits, model kits, crossword puzzle books (large print), jigsaw puzzles (small and large pieces), search word books (large print), Suduko books, scrapbooking supplies, adult games, playing cards, cross stitch, knitting supplies, arts and crafts supplies, non-skid socks, and stress squeeze balls.

If you would like to make a donation, Santas for Seniors will be taking place Wednesday, Dec 2. from 5 -7 p.m. under the porte cochere in front of Glen Rose Medical Center. Hot chocolate and cookies will be passed out at the drop off site.