Holiday Senior Care – Beat the Blues

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,931
    Senior Care expert Mary Alexander discusses the difference between the holiday “blues” and depression in your elderly loved one.

    Mary Alexander: Hi! I am Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care, and today I am discussing beating the Holiday Blues. The holidays are a great time to spend with family and friends but for many seniors the holidays can be stressful, confusing or even depressing, if their mental, physical and emotional needs are not taken into account. It is important not to confuse the holiday blues with depression. If your senior loved one seems depressed take them to their doctor, depression is not a normal part of aging and should never be ignored. A physical examination can help determine whether there are any physical causes for their depression. If not, his or her doctor can decide if the senior might benefit from seeing a mental health professional. The holiday blues are feelings of profound sadness that can be provoked by many of the activities of the holiday season. The holiday blues may also be brought on by Seasonal Affective Disorder or more commonly called Winter Depression. This is a seasonal illness that can sap your energy and make you moody. It can be provoked by reductions in sunlight during the short days of winter. It is important for seniors who spend much of their time indoors to make time for activities that will increase their exposure to daylight. One way to help offset the holiday blues is to help your senior family member adhere to their regular schedule of medications and avoid drinking too much alcohol. Abusing alcohol can provoke inappropriate behavior and can interfere with their medications. To help beat the holiday blues the Mayo Clinic recommends taking a stroll down memory lane with your senior loved ones. As we the age, we may have difficulty remembering recent events but seniors are often able to share stories and observations from the distant past. Those shared memories are important for the entire family as well. Children enjoy hearing what it was like when their grandparents were young. Use picture albums, family videos and music, even theme songs from old radio or TV programs to help stimulate memories and encourage seniors to share their stories and experiences. Creating new memories is another tactic to fend off feelings of sadness during the holidays. We all enjoy having new activities to anticipate, and for seniors, this is especially true. The sense of anticipation can help to minimize the holiday blues and generate excitement for what lies ahead. Add some new holiday activities this year such as taking a drive to look at holiday decorations, window shopping at the mall or strolling along a festive downtown street, and remember to bring a camera along to capture these new memories so they can be shared at future holiday gatherings.