Although we like to think of the holidays as a joyous time of year, not everyone feels that way. It can be a depressing and lonely time for seniors—especially for seniors who are separated from their loved ones. In addition, some seniors might be reminded of lost friends or family members. Additionally, they may find themselves spending the holidays without their significant other for the first time. These losses bring on a lot of strong emotions and can be difficult to face alone. These all explain why elderly depression can be quite acute during the holiday season.
So, what can you do as a loved one of a senior who might be having a difficult time coping during the holidays?
1. Listen to your senior loved one when they want to talk.
When your loved one talks, listen. Encourage them to express what they are feeling about the holidays, good or bad. If possible, just check in with them daily either by stopping by, calling, or even skyping to see how they are doing and to be there for them if they need someone to talk to. Often, seniors just want to know that someone cares about them and that they are not alone.
2. Remind them how important they are to you.
Seniors often get depressed because they feel they cannot participate in holiday planning the way they used to. If you are planning a holiday celebration, let them know they are a big part of that celebration. Ask for their advice or help preparing for the event. Even asking them for a recipe can make them feel included in the process. Most importantly, remind them how much they are loved by everyone in the family.
3. Spend quality time with them.
Quality time with your loved ones is important all year long, but especially during the holidays. Look at old holiday pictures, cards, or videos with them, and leave them somewhere visible and accessible so your loved one can take a walk down memory lane when they are alone. Come over to help them decorate their home for the season or to watch some favorite holiday movies. Quality time with family and friends can be a great remedy for seasonal depression in the elderly.
4. Plan a family gathering.
There is no better way to brighten someone’s mood and show them how much they are loved than by surrounding them with family. Dedicate a special night for everyone to get together for dinner, viewing a family video, or even a game night. Invite friends, family, and anyone else you think your loved one will enjoy seeing.
5. Put on a happy face.
It is normal to feel tired yourself, and maybe even a little down, with all the running around preparing for the holidays. However, positivity is infectious. If you’re able to keep a smile on, you’ll spread that holiday cheer to everyone around you, including your loved one who may be struggling with a bout of depression.
6. Help them with their holiday planning.
Many elderly seniors cannot get out and shop like they used to. Depending on their physical health and age, they may no longer be driving or may not be able to move around a store or mall without assistance. Offer to take your loved one out to do their holiday shopping, and maybe even grab lunch. A fun afternoon out of the house will surely make their day, and it will help them check things off their holiday list. If getting out is not feasible for them, bring over a laptop or tablet to help them shop online. It might be a fun experience for them. Also, a little extra help baking or preparing meals might be really appreciated.
7. Hire a home health caregiver.
If you do not have the time to help your loved one during the holidays, consider hiring a home health aide. An aide can help them with errands, decorations for the holidays, as well as preparing meals. Not to mention, home health aides can provide companionship. You will feel more at ease knowing someone is covering for you and helping take care of your loved one during what might be a vulnerable time in their life.
Depression in the elderly is a serious problem that is far too often overlooked. A home health aide from David York Agency can provide the compassionate and personalized care to help seniors through the challenges they face in the lonely winter months.
For more information on David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. To find out more about hiring an aide for your loved one this winter, contact us today.