For most of us, the holidays are a delightful time to share the joys of family life and friendship. But for many elderly adults in particular, the holidays can be highly stressful, confusing and even depressing if their mental, physical and emotional needs are not taken into account.
His tips for alleviating depression in the elderly this holiday season:
Create a festive mood: Make sure your elderly loved ones are part of all of the festivities and feel that special feeling of the holidays. To help accomplish this, get creative and involve the entire family. You can also use technology if your loved ones live far away.
Stroll down memory lane: Holidays provoke memories, which can be especially powerful in the later years of life. Memories and life review are important parts of the aging process. Use picture albums, family videos and music, even theme songs from old radio or TV programs to help stimulate memories and encourage older seniors to share their stories and experiences. It can be a powerful tool to flight depression.
Create new memories: Seniors need new things to anticipate and getting out of the house (if possible) can help reduce depression. Add something new to the holiday celebration, or volunteer for your family to help others. Enjoy activities that are free, such as taking a drive to look at holiday decorations, or window-shopping at the mall, holiday school plays or a festive walk down light-filled streets.
Reach out and touch: Social connectedness is especially important during the holidays. Whether your loved ones are close by or far away, reaching out is something that needs to be done. Loneliness is associated with major depression and sadness especially in the elderly. If your loved one is close by, have them spend a few days with your family. If they are far way, hire a personal caregiver for the holiday season to be a companion.
Keep an eye on medications and alcohol: If you have senior family members, be sure to help them adhere to their regular schedule of medications during the frenzy of the holidays. Also, pay attention to their alcohol consumption during holiday parties and family gatherings. Alcohol can provoke inappropriate behavior or interfere with medications.
Professional assistance: In more severe cases of depression, antidepressant drugs can improve the quality of life in depressed elderly people. Cognitive therapy sessions with a counselor may also be effective. A geriatric assessment center or professional therapist can be a valuable resource.
*This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect my own.