We all know that during the holiday season the elderly can experience “the blues.” The causes can be varied and can include financial pressure, separation from loved ones who live far away, the feeling of isolation, loss of independence, absence of parents, siblings and friends who have passed away, absence of traditions and reunions of the past.
It is important to recognize the distinction between mild depression associated with the holidays, and the more obvious signs of serious depression which can include excessive sleeping, decreased appetite, diminished hygiene, thoughts of suicide or death, expressing feelings of worthlessness or helplessness, and difficulty sleeping or concentrating. These more serious symptoms require immediate measures to seek professional help.
However, these are some helpful ideas on how you can make big a difference with an elderly person that seems to need some cheering up this holiday season:
- Spend time with your elderly family and friends. Although this is the most obvious thing you can do, it can be overlooked as you try to accomplish everything else in your busy life.
- Help decorate! Put holiday lights on a timer so they go on when it gets dark and this will have a positive impact on mood (we all know the negative effect of less daylight during the winter).
- How about a simple, low cost gift such as a bird feeder that attaches to the outside of a window where the person sits the most? Include some birdfeed or possibly a book about birds of region. How about a digital frame with pictures of family, friends, and events. Since many seniors have internet how about “Skype”? This is easy to install, simple to operate, and a great way for your loved one to video conference with friends and family anywhere in the world (we actually offer this set-up as a service through our sister company Assisted Living Technologies, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Assist with writing and sending holiday cards.
- Take them for a ride to see an area outdoor holiday attraction, such as holiday lights in a park, or one of the “best decorated homes in the area.”
- Help to arrange a visit with a friend or group of friends.
- Deliver a hot meal! Bring enough for both of you and take the time to join them.
- Help them bake cookies or other holiday treats.
Again, it’s so easy to get caught up in the holiday frazzle – but take a few minutes to show you care.