According to the American Medical Resource Institute there are more than six million seniors over age 65 that suffer from depression. Unfortunately, depression in seniors during the holidays intensify the feelings of loneliness, chronic health issues, and many other mental challenges that may face our aging loved ones.
Holiday Blues in Seniors: What You Can Do to Help
- Look for signs of depression – While feeling blue can be normal, depression isn’t. It is important for caretakers to look for signs of depressions such as persistent sadness, frequent fearfulness, weight changes, changes in sleep patterns, etc.
- Plan holiday outings – Include your loved one in fun holiday events or call LifeLinks to help you (see below). Caroling, decorating, holiday cards, holiday shopping, cooking – these are all traditions that make the holidays special.
- Encourage reminiscing – Our elders have lived a good life with so many great memories, which ones are their favorites and what do the holidays mean to them. Looking through family photos and past holiday events can help trigger stories.
- Plan quiet time – This goes for you and the relative you are caring for. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can wear you down in addition to your extra caregiving duties, and it can be disruptive to an elderly person. Take time in-between events and parties to relax and recharge.
- Don’t forget to take care of you – We can’t stress enough how important this is. If you are happy and well rested, you are able to successfully care and observe the loved ones around you. Take care of you, depression and stress happens to all ages during the holidays.
Holiday Depression in the Elderly: What LifeLinks Can Do To Help
The following ways are some ways we have helped seniors during the holidays in the past:
- Take them shopping for gifts (even just to Walgreens or from a catalog is empowering for them to choose some or all of the gifts they give)
- Go for a car ride to look at holiday lights
- Sort through holiday cards or picture albums to let them reminisce about family, friends and previous holidays
- Ensure medications are packed and prepared for a day or two away
- Help them buy and prepare a special homemade recipe
- Wrap gifts
- Buy, address, and mail holiday cards