Wednesday Workshop – Minimizing Elderly Depression Over the Holidays
Hello and welcome to Wednesday Workshop. While the holiday season can be a time of added stress for many of us, the elderly population is at an increased risk for depression during the holidays. You may notice a change in your loved one’s mood or you may notice a decline in their physical activity. They may show symptoms of fatigue or sadness–and have no interest in the holiday or in their surroundings. Also, they might not have the same level of excitement and anticipation that they had in the past.
It is not the actual holiday that causes this depression, but the fact that holidays tend to bring up memories of earlier, happier times. During the holidays, older adults tend to feel the passing of time, as well as the absence of parents, siblings and friends who have passed away, and the distance of loved ones who have moved away. Traditional reunions and rituals that were observed in the past may not be possible, and in their absence, the holidays may seem empty and without meaning.
There are several things you can do to help your elderly loved one through this difficult time.
- Spend quality time with your elderly loved one. Visit loved ones as much as possible during the holiday season. If you are unable to visit, call them frequently.
- Involve aging loved ones in a range of activities. Involve your loved one in as many holiday preparations as possible. Older adults with physical limitations can be included in kitchen activities by asking them to do a simple task, such as peeling vegetables, folding napkins or arranging flowers. With assistance, they can wrap presents, help create shopping lists and write holiday cards.
- Create new traditions and memories. Seniors need many things to anticipate. Create new traditions in which they are easily able to participate, such as taking a drive to look at holiday decorations and lights or window-shopping at the mall.
- Don’t ignore the problems. Do not pretend your loved one’s problems do not exist. Be sure to acknowledge that the holidays can be difficult for everyone. Talk about your own struggles or sadness.
- Do not forget to listen. When visiting your loved one, do not forget to listen. It is common for visitors to end up doing most of the talking during a visit. This is one of the most generous gifts you can offer an elderly person. Truly listening helps individuals feel appreciated, valued, and loved.
- Do not underestimate the power of affection. Hugs, holding hands and other physical gestures of affection have the potential to ease our minds. These acts of affection make us feel less isolated, as well as reducing stress and anxiety.
To speak with us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center
Feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!