The holidays are usually a happy and joyous time. However, we have to remember that not everyone feels that way, especially if they are spending the holidays without their loved ones. This season can be a very depressing and lonely time. In the case of our seniors, the holidays are a sad reminder of the loss of a spouse, friends, family members, or pets. The loss can be hard to face alone. Sometimes, it may not be the holidays itself that causes the sadness, but reminiscing of the good old days, physical vitality of youth, and just happier days. The person that usually discovers this mood is the caregiver, family, or friends. They may notice a change in their mood or behavior, fatigue, sadness, or limited interest in the holiday season, just to name a few. However, in the case of the caregiver, it is very important that this situation is communicated to the family or primary care provider (PCP) if necessary.
In the meantime, here are some ways we can help our loved ones during this holiday season. We can be good listeners, give them our time and undivided attention, plan activities that are appropriate for them, and plan family gatherings. We can also make them a part of the holiday activities. If they are mobile, we can take them shopping, take them out for lunch, take them to see Christmas lights, ask them for advice on planning the menus for the holiday, and even include some of their favorite dishes in the Christmas menu.
In addition, most seniors love to reminisce and talk about their earlier memories and they love to give us insight with their wisdom if asked. Remember, our seniors come with a lot of life experiences and wisdom. This makes them feel needed and important. Most importantly, let them know they are loved, needed, and that their input matters.
In conclusion, depression in our seniors is many times overlooked and can be a very serious problem. Depending on the seriousness of the depression, there are many avenues we can tap into to support our seniors, like support groups, one-on-one counseling, therapy, and medication, if needed, that is prescribed by a doctor. Just making them feel needed, loved and, a part of our lives is one of the best gifts of all.