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Mother's Day and Father's Day can be lonely for many in our community

SAN DIEGO - Mother's Day and Father's Day are great opportunities to spend time with your parents and remind them how much you love and appreciate them. However, if you have lost one or both of your parents, or if you are a parent and your children are not around anymore, these holidays can be very depressing and lonely.

Chronic loneliness and feelings of abandonment puts seniors at risk for dementia, according to a 2007 study from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

The Alzheimer's Association encourages seniors to stay socially connected and exercise both your body and mind to try to protect against developing Alzheimer's Disease or related disorders.

If you or someone you know feels as though Mother's Day or Father's Day may be hard to get through, consider these ideas to help cope with the difficult emotions brought on by the reminder of your parents' or children's absence:

* Volunteer and help lift the spirits of a senior who might also be feeling down about this day.

* Write your parent a letter or card, even though they are no longer with you.

* Talk to a friend or family member you trust to share your feelings about this day.

* Plant a tree in your parent's memory.

* Do something you enjoy! Whether it's gardening or playing cards with your friends, engage in an activity that makes you happy.

* Remember that you are a parent no matter if your children live many miles away or have passed away. Once a parent, always a parent.

* Give back to the community. Contributing to your community is a rewarding and fun way to stay active on Mother's or Father's Day.

* Plan out your day in advance. Make plans to visit with a friend or to go see a movie. Having a plan will help you manage your expectations of the day.

The absence of parents or children are hard on any holiday, however Mother's Day and Father's Day can be especially rough since these days are meant to honor the special bond between child and parent. Incorporate one or all of these suggestions into your plans for Mother's Day or Father's Day to help ease the pain of being without your loved ones on these holidays.

About Senior Community Centers and Paul Downey

Founded in 1970, Senior Community Centers is a nonprofit agency transforming the aging experience for San Diego seniors through nutrition, health and wellness services, advocacy and transitional and supportive housing that increase the quality of life for seniors living in poverty and allowing them to live independently for as long as possible.

The organization has been led for more than 16 years by Chief Executive Officer and President Paul Downey, who is also the president of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs and the California Nutrition Coalition.

For a complete list of volunteer opportunities or more information, visit HERE, Facebook or Twitter, or call (619) 487-0743.