We’re entering a season of joy, celebration, and togetherness. But while this is generally a happy time for many, it can also be a period of loneliness and sadness for older adults. This time of hustle and bustle can be overwhelming, and for seniors living on their own, the holidays can magnify feelings of isolation and loss.
That’s why seniors need to take proactive steps to prevent holiday depression. If you are a senior, or if you have elderly loved ones, here are some tips to keep in mind during the holidays.
Stay Socially Connected
It can be tempting to stay at home and avoid the busy holiday crowds, especially with the looming threat of cold weather and illness. But it’s important for seniors to stay connected with friends and family during the holidays.
Make plans to attend holiday events or gatherings, reach out to loved ones and plan visits, or join a senior center or community group. Staying socially connected can combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Don’t Overwhelm Yourself
On the flip side, it’s also important not to overextend yourself during the holiday season. While some holiday traditions can bring joy, it’s important for seniors to prioritize and not overexert themselves.
This may mean saying no to certain events or gatherings, delegating tasks, or simplifying holiday plans. It’s okay to take breaks and rest during the busy season, and it’s important to listen to your body and limit stress as much as possible. And don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to loved ones or hire help for tasks like holiday shopping and decorating.
Keep Up with Healthy Habits
Holiday treats are some of the best parts of the season. Eggnogs, cookies, and other seasonal goodies can be hard to resist. But it’s important for seniors to maintain a balanced diet and exercise routine during the holidays. This can help boost mood and energy levels, as well as prevent weight gain and potential health issues.
Take Your Medications
During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, missing medication doses during the busy holiday season can be a common problem for seniors. Not only does it pose potential health risks, but it can also contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety.
Staying on schedule with medications is crucial for maintaining health and preventing potential complications. Set reminders or enlist a loved one to help ensure you stay on track with your medication routine. And remember to refill prescriptions before they run out, especially during holiday breaks when pharmacies and doctor’s offices may have limited hours.
Set Realistic Expectations
For seniors who have lost loved ones or are experiencing changes in their health, the holidays can be a reminder of loss and challenges. It’s important to set realistic expectations for the holiday season and acknowledge that it may not be the same as in previous years.
It may also help to focus on gratitude and the positive aspects of the season and find ways to honor lost loved ones during holiday gatherings and traditions.
Seek Help if Needed
If you find yourself feeling persistently down or overwhelmed during the holiday season, don’t hesitate to seek help. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, or consider talking to a therapist or doctor. There are also hotlines and resources available for those experiencing depression and loneliness during the holidays.
Knowing How to Spot Signs of Senior Depression
While holiday depression is common for seniors, it’s important to also be aware of the signs of senior depression year-round. These can include withdrawal from social activities, changes in appetite or sleeping patterns, loss of interest in hobbies, and feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness. Sometimes, the holiday blues can also manifest as physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomach aches.
Finding the Silver Lining
The holidays may bring up difficult emotions for seniors, but it’s important to also focus on the positive aspects of the season. This could include making plans to spend time with loved ones, participating in favorite holiday traditions and activities, or volunteering in the community.
Above all, remember that you are not alone. Reach out for support and help if needed, and consult a doctor or therapist if your feelings of depression persist. With the right care and support, you can enjoy the holiday season and make happy memories.
A Word from Medical Alert
If you or a loved one are experiencing holiday depression, it’s important to prioritize self-care and seek help as needed. And for added peace of mind during the holidays and year-round, consider a medical alert system. In case of an emergency, this can provide immediate access to help, 24/7.