Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season is officially among us. For most, that means shopping, food, and family, but for some seniors, the holidays can be a difficult, lonely time that can trigger seasonal depression. Memories of holiday seasons gone by, isolation, and loneliness can lead to what psychology professionals call “The Holiday Blues.” Although the Holiday Blues can affect anyone, an estimated 6 million Americans over the age of 65 have reported feeling down during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
Here are four ways to help your senior loved ones avoid seasonal depression and have a string of holly, jolly holidays:
1. Take Time to Smell the Turkey
The holiday season can be a stressful, busy time, but try to not let your daily to-do list get in the way of spending time with older family members. Remember: something as simple as a fifteen-minute phone call can brighten someone’s day.
2. Remember: The More the Merrier
The holidays take preparation. From cooking to decorating, lighting, and wrapping, there’s plenty to do. Avoid the habit of plowing through your to-do list solo. Instead, if you live in close proximity to your aging parents or grandparents, or if you know of any seniors in your neighborhood, ask them if they’d like to join in the merrymaking. That way, you’ll both get a chance to get into the holiday spirit!
3. Make Someone Else's Holiday Special
Lots of nonprofit organizations, such as soup kitchens, food banks, and Toys for Tots, are in need of volunteers during the holiday season. Try volunteering with your senior loved one. It will give them an elevated sense of purpose while helping a good cause.
4. Celebrate the Present, But Don’t Forget the Past
A lot of seniors suffering from the Holiday Blues are mourning the loss of loved ones, like their siblings or spouse, and aren’t ready to make new holiday memories without them. Pay special remembrances to family members who have passed away by looking at old photos, making their favorite foods, or going around the room and sharing your favorite memories about them. By acknowledging deceased family members, you remind your senior loved ones that although the people who played such crucial roles in their holiday memories are gone, they’re certainly not forgotten.
From all of us at Milestone Retirement Communities, we wish you and your family a very happy holiday season.