The holiday season is a time to spread cheer, visit family and celebrate all life has to offer. While the holidays are a time for celebration, it can also be a time of added stress for many of us and especially for seniors.
According to HealthInAging.org, the holidays can be a source of sadness for older adults who may be dealing with the loss of loved ones and past traditions, for example. The holidays may also be challenging for seniors who struggle with health conditions and financial issues.
There are many ways you can help seniors overcome the holiday blues:
Look for signs
When you visit your loved one before or during the holidays, pay special attention to any changes in their behaviours and appearance. Look for signs such as:
- Unexplained tearfulness
- Loss of interest or pleasure doing things
- Weight changes
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Unkempt appearance
Talk about it
Often times, people who are struggling tend to avoid the problem, versus opting to discuss it. Sweeping the issue under the rug isn’t productive for either you or your loved one. Ensure your loved one knows you are open to talking about their feelings.
You don’t necessarily need to come armed with solutions. Sometimes all it takes is a listening ear to make someone feel valued, appreciated and loved. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and do your best to understand their situation.
Organize fun events and outings
Ask them if there is anything special or fun they’d like to do. Keep in mind, they may be reluctant to participate if they aren’t feeling well. If they don’t want to go out, try suggesting a few home-based activities instead. Baking, decorating or simply listening to some upbeat music might help lift their spirits.
Host a small gathering
Helping a senior host a small holiday gathering at their senior living community or inviting them over for a festive, intimate gathering may boost their mood. The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal reports that up to 15 percent of the Western population lives with feelings of loneliness. It also states that over 30 percent of older adults in Canada are at high risk of loneliness. Spending time with people who are loving and caring is a great way to minimize loneliness while beating the holiday blues.
Encourage your loved one to participate in a volunteer activity. Volunteering in the community may improve a senior’s sense of self-worth while providing quality bonding time with the family members who also participate. At Seasons, we offer signature programs such as Seniorosity, to help keep our residents active and involved in the community.
Consider alternate lifestyle options
It’s possible that your loved one has been struggling to live alone for quite some time. But the holidays tend to make this reality more apparent. It might be time to start considering retirement living. At Seasons, you are welcome to enjoy a meal and attend any number of events to really get a sense of what we offer, who your neighbours will be and how much our service team genuinely cares about each residents’ well-being.
Talk with a healthcare professional
Sometimes, in more serious cases, the holiday blues can manifest into clinical depression. HealthInAging.org explains that often times older adults don’t realize they are depressed. If you suspect depression in someone you know, you may need to keep bringing it up. Advise them you are there to help and support them in any way possible and encourage them to see a healthcare professional.