How to brighten the holidays for a lonely senior - KMSP-TV

How to brighten the holidays for a lonely senior

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"Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" is the Willy Nelson song Denis Michaelson plays on his harmonica to ease the nostalgia. It's just one way the 75-year-old shoos away the loneliness at Christmas.

"I've got to be honest with you," he said. "I do really get depressed. I'm by myself, you know, and alone."

Thanks to organizations like Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Michaelson can combat isolation with events like Be a Santa for a Senior.

"It's tough to see and our hearts really just go out to those individuals," volunteer manager Josh Windham said. "If we can do something just so simple as delivering a nice gift -- a nice Christmas ornament -- it just brightens up their day."

Lisa Anderson, spokeswoman from Home Instead, said the senior population is only growing and we're going to continue to see instances of elders isolated for the holidays. Home Instead links seniors who prefer to live at home with paid caregivers.

"The social and emotional needs cannot be overlooked because loneliness can actually impact someone's health in the long run," Anderson said.

That's one reason Denis Michaelson stays busy.

"I take three walks a day just around the block," he said. "It takes me 20 minutes and that's how I get my exercise. I don't want to be a couch potato."

And he credits his volunteer visitors and caregivers.

"As far as I'm concerned, (they're) like angels," he said.

Michaelson said if he can bring joy to people it brings joy to him. You can find him playing the harmonica at the Christmas lunch at Bethel Lutheran Church in Minneapolis on the 25th.

For more information on how you can get involved with the groups mentioned, visit or

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