Ah, the holidays: they’re the most wonderful time of the year, or perhaps the most challenging. For a lot of older adults who have lost loved ones, are struggling with chronic health issues, or are suffering from isolation and loneliness, the holidays can trigger depression. And, the family caregivers who take care of a loved one are also susceptible to holiday blues, because of the overabundance of stress.
Seek medical assistance. First of all, it’s important to relay any suspected indications of depression (alterations in sleeping and eating habits, absence of desire for previously enjoyed activities and socializing, lethargy and constant despair) to your elderly loved one’s (or your) primary care physician. There are effective treatment options readily available, and it’s critical to eliminate any other health concerns.
Make healthy choices. With the amount of high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt food products to choose from during the holiday season, it is very easy to let a healthy diet slip and overindulge. Yet eating unhealthy, along with drinking an excessive amount of alcohol, can play a role in feelings of depression. It is equally important to get plenty of sleep; 8 hours is optimal for most adults.
Create new traditions. Often for older adults, holiday traditions have had to evolve as time passes. Starting a brand new normal isn’t always easy, but could lead to restored interest in holiday festivities. Try participating in an evening of caroling, a shopping and lunch event at a new venue, going to the local high school’s holiday play or performance, etc.
Reminisce. Rather than steering clear of emotional conversations about lost friends or past holidays, urge the senior to share memories with you, and pay attention and take part in the conversation. Looking through photographs or watching home movies could help the senior process the loss and begin to move ahead toward acceptance and comfort.
Help others. Nothing improves our spirits quite like knowing we’ve helped someone else. Investigate opportunities for your elderly loved one to volunteer in some way to help those who are in need: baking treats for a nearby homeless shelter, picking up small toys and gifts to give to the children’s hospital, assembling care packages for the people in the military services, etc.
For further suggestions to inspire your senior loved one to remain active and engaged during the holidays and all year long, contact CareWorks Health Services’ home care experts. Our fully trained caregivers are skilled in helping older adults live life to the fullest, and we’re here for you with as much or as little assistance as required. Contact us online or call (949) 859-4700 for more information.