The holidays are a time of joy and togetherness, brought about by the excitement of office parties, shopping, reconnecting with old friends, and family get-togethers. As we get caught up in all this activity, it’s important to remember that it is not uncommon for many seniors to slip into a state of melancholy this time of the year. Their limited mobility and absence of their peers can make them feel helpless during a time when there is much to do and so much to feel nostalgic for.
The holiday blues is a common occurrence among seniors, but it is often overlooked. It isn’t a healthy time to be left alone, and constant company or senior home care can help ease the symptoms. As the holidays draw near, pay attention to these causes and symptoms of holiday blues in seniors, and follow these helpful tips to help your elderly loved ones overcome any seasonal depression.
Cause of Senior Blues during the Holidays
Memories of happier times and declining health are the main triggers of senior depression, and both can be exacerbated if a senior is living alone. Consider how your loved one feels, as they process all the recent bereavements, loss of identity due to physical limitations or retirement, and, for some, the anxiety over nearing the end of life. For many seniors, the holiday season only serves as a reminder of how lonely they may feel. This loneliness, lack of social interaction, and inability to get around during a time when everyone else is bustling with holiday spirit can manifest into the holiday blues rather quickly.
In addition, weather also plays a big role if you live in a location where the short winter days combine with cold rain or snow making it extremely difficult to venture outdoors and enjoy life.
Symptoms of Holiday Blues
Family members and friends should be made aware of the following signs of holiday blues in seniors to ensure they get the help they need:
- General feelings of sadness and melancholy
- Fatigue, brought about by difficulty in sleeping or a change in sleeping habits.
- Inactivity, due to an apathetic attitude and a general loss of interest in activities and socializing
- Loss or change in appetite
These symptoms are, of course, generic. Individuals who truly know the natural disposition of your parents or grandparents will be the first to pick up on the signs that something is wrong. If your loved one has senior home care, your provider will already be aware of what to look for, and understand that discovering the problem early on is the best way to prevent the consequences and side effects of holiday depression.
Five Tips to Help Seniors Beat the Holiday Blues
1. Listen to and Spend Time with Them
Actively listen to your loved ones. Don’t just let them speak, but respond to what they are saying by asking questions and giving feedback. Check in with them daily or make sure that someone is always with them. Instruct senior home care providers to encourage them to express their feelings, good or bad. It’s important that they know that someone cares about them, that they are not alone, and someone is listening.
In addition, exercise is the most effective tool for combatting depression. While many seniors have limited mobility there is usually something for their level of ability. Check with a senior home care provider for advice in this matter.
2. Plan Plenty of Family Time
Quality family time is important throughout the whole year, but during the holidays it is crucial. Seniors love sharing holiday memories, even those with impaired memories will appreciate looking through old holiday photos, cards, or home movies. Encourage other family members to spend time with them by dropping into watch some favourite holiday films as well.
Music is a great tool for jogging the memory and the holiday season is full of specific songs that many seniors associate with happy memories. Encourage seniors to share their stories and experiences as these holidays standards stimulate memories.
3. Get them Involved
Depression comes easily to any person when they feel that they are not useful. Be sure to ask the seniors in your life for any help or advice they might have. If you’re planning a holiday get-together, ask for their input on what to serve. Even something as simple as asking for a recipe—and learning the story behind it—can brighten up their day because they feel included in the planning process.
4. Help Them with their Holiday Planning
A big trigger of holiday depression for seniors is brought about by their desire to give, but depending on their physical and mental health they may not be able to get out and shop like they used to. Offer to take them out holiday shopping. If they’re unable to get out, bring over a laptop or tablet and take them online shopping.
Keep in mind that all the activity of the holidays can interrupt ones regular routine. For seniors, it’s especially important that they stay on their regular schedule of sleep, medication, and meals. An attentive senior home care provider can assist with this, making sure your loved one doesn’t become overwhelmed.
5. Keep their Holiday Traditions Alive
No matter your age, everyone becomes nostalgic during the holiday season. But whereas younger generations can reminisce about the past with their peers, for seniors it’s painful reminder that many of their friends are gone. You can help by asking them about old times as you assist them in decorating their home, sending cards, or their holiday baking. It’s a great opportunity for you to learn holiday traditions of your own family while brightening their spirits.
Regardless of one’s religion, the holidays can be a very spiritual time and many seniors take solace in the festive activities and services offered by their church or other religious organizations. Even if you yourself don’t attend, take the time to make sure that they do.
Overall, the biggest gift you can give your elderly loved one this holiday season is your time. The problem is, of course, that the buys season affords us less time than normal. Senior home care is a popular option during the holidays. It provides the much needed companionship and extra help around the house. Knowing that someone is there to take care of your loved one will help you feel more at ease during what is commonly a lonely and vulnerable time in their life.
Need someone to take care of your loved one during the holidays?
If your aging parent(s) requires home care in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Calgary, Edmonton, or Ottawa, book a free senior care assessment with Mavencare. We offer free home care assessment and the first 3 hours are on us if you book 10 or more hours.