Despite all of the commercials and the ads telling people to be jolly, winter can be very depressing, especially for seniors. They may find that they are missing family members, friends and even a spouse who is deceased. They long for happier times, and these feelings can cause holiday depression in the elderly.
Depression affects over 5 million American seniors every year. For many, this feeling intensifies during the holiday season. The shorter days and colder nights can make an individual feel depressed. However, it is important to remember that depression can affect a person at any age, but age is only one of the contributing factors. Therefore, it is helpful for family members, health professionals and others to recognize signs of holiday depression in the elderly.
Signs and Symptoms of Holiday Depression In The Elderly
As the holiday season approaches and you spend more time with your elderly loved ones, pay careful attention to some of the subtle signs of depression. Some of the signs are:
- Constant sadness
- Less socialization
- Appetite changes
- Changes in appearance
- Memory problems
- Sleep issues
- No interest in hobbies or activities
- Suicidal thoughts
- Discussing death
As we become older, the experiences we have on the holidays will change with each passing year. However, the way we enjoy them should not change. Although we fondly remember the past, we should not expect things to remain the same forever.
Once you recognize the signs of depression, you can take proactive steps to help your loved one before the depression becomes worse. There are simple steps you can take to lift their spirits. Some of these steps include:
- Stick to a regular schedule. Seniors often find it hard to adjust to any changes in their schedule.
- Reduce consumption of alcohol
- Maintain a balanced and nutritious diet
- Take prescribed medications as directed. Know the possible side effects
- Get enough sleep
- Participate in holiday activities with family and friends
- Ask your loved ones to share how they are feeling. Sometimes seniors feel as though they have no one to talk to
Holiday depression in the elderly can worsen if it is left untreated. Do not accept the behavior and feelings as normal. Encourage your loved one to seek medical help if the symptoms last for more than two weeks.
Does your loved one need someone to enjoy upcoming social events with? Contact us today and inquire about our companionship services.