It’s sad but true, while many of us love the holidays some seniors can have a particularly difficult time and often suffer from “the holiday blues.”
The winter holiday season can often intensify feelings of depression and isolation. Usually it is not the holidays themselves that cause depression, but the fact that the holiday season tends to make seniors reflect back on earlier, happier times in their life. A loss of a spouse or a close friend can often bring on depression, as can other key changes in life.
When friends or family members raise concerns about depression, many seniors often deny the problem exists. This is one reason why a visit to the doctor is important in diagnosing and treating depression. There can be medical reasons for depression including chronic pain, metabolic or hormonal abnormalities, or complications from an illness. A medical professional can also diagnose seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a common condition linked with depression.
Some of the typical symptoms of depression include:
- A depressed or irritable mood
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Feelings of worthlessness or sadness
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Obsessive thoughts about death
If you are a caregiver or family member of someone who seems depressed, it’s important to get involved and not ignore the problem. Once depression is identified, a proper treatment program can be initiated. Treatment can range in scope, from more exercise and increased involvement in family activities to anti-depressive medications. Cognitive therapy sessions with a behavioral health therapist have also been proven effective.
If you sense a loved one isn’t suffering from depression but seems to be having a little trouble dealing with the holidays, here’s some tips than can help make the season more enjoyable for them:
- Try to create new traditions and memories around the holidays. Even simple activities such as seeing a holiday show or driving around town at night to view decorations can be a wonderful experience.
- Try to minimize stressful situations. Remember that some seniors can find large holiday gatherings too noisy and overwhelming. Keep this in consideration when making plans.
- Keep seniors involved as much as possible. From decorating a tree to folding napkins for the holiday dinner table, most seniors would prefer to take part in family activities rather than sit on the sidelines.
- Try a fun activity such as creating a family scrapbook. Many seniors enjoy activities such as this, especially when they can work closely with their children and grandchildren.
It’s important to remember that the holiday season can be difficult for many people, especially seniors. Whether you, a friend, or a loved one suffer from holiday depression, remember that getting the right help can make all the difference. There’s no reason the holidays can’t be the most joyous time of year.