December 2, 2022
The holidays are a wonderful time of year that many of us look forward to. But the holidays can also bring a variety of emotions, including stress, anxiety and depression. These emotions are especially prevalent in the older adult population at this time of year. Depression can impact anyone at any age, but contrary to what some believe, depression is not a normal part of the aging process.
Senior mental health issues are not limited to just the holidays, but it tends to be an emotional time of year. The senior population may be experiencing:
- Isolation/loneliness – As their younger family members’ lives get busier during the holidays, it can enhance that feeling of loneliness, especially if the individual lives alone or has lost a significant other.
- Changes in family traditions – As families grow and schedules changes, family traditions are harder to keep. Those traditions may have been the one thing that they looked forward to all year.
- Missing family or friends – The holidays tend to bring up many old memories that may be associated with loved ones that are no longer with us. Seniors may feel that the holiday season will never be as joyful as they once were.
There are ways that seniors and their loved ones can help alleviate those feelings of depression during the holidays:
- Keep the lines of communication open. Be sure to check in frequently with your loved ones. Make a quick visit to share some holiday photos, send a card or text message letting them know you are thinking of them. Make time for a video call or message.
- Encourage participation in social events or a new hobby. Help them find local events or groups they can be a part of. Many senior centers, churches and libraries have holiday events that all ages can participate in. Staying busy and having a connection to their community can prevent some feelings of loneliness and depression.
- Encourage overall wellness. We all know that physical activity improves mental health, this also holds true in the senior population. Check in to see when their last well-check with their physician was. Encourage healthy eating and getting plenty of sleep.
- Mental health support. Encourage contacting their physician or counselor if feelings do not subside. Assist with setting up transportation to appointments if needed and check in to be sure they are following through with the prescribed plan.
Always consult with your physician prior to starting any new exercise regimen.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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