The holidays are not always filled with joy and cheer. It can be a very stressful time for anyone, especially the elderly. The loss of loved ones or isolation from their family can contribute to senior depression during the holidays. It’s very common for this time of year. High expectations are always set for the holidays. Everything has to be so perfect such as finding the right gift, making it to family functions on time, and matching the holiday cheer of the peers around you. It can be difficult, especially when you’re aging and lack the mobility and energy you once had. If you do notice that your senior loved one is sad, tired, never hungry, or socially withdrawn this holiday season, he or she might be experiencing depression.
However, a senior’s emotional state is not the only thing affected by holiday-related depression. In fact, the most common symptoms of depression amongst the elderly are physical ailments, however it often goes undiagnosed because people don’t often think that arthritis pain can be a side effect of depression. Other physical ailments from depression include:
- Unexplained aches
- Slowed movement
- Memory problems
The most important thing to understand is that depression is not a natural part of aging. It’s common, but should be dealt with quickly. What could start as “winter blues” could turn to a senior loved one being clinically depressed. If that’s the case, their normal life may be affected severely. Instead of feeling upset about being away from their family, their thoughts can turn to a feeling of worthlessness, a thought no one should ever think. They begin to question the value of life and an excessive feeling of guilt may take over them. This is when the lethargy begins to set in. An older adult who’s clinically depressed may remain in bed for days at a time, neglecting to take care of themselves.
It may be difficult identifying an older adult who has seasonal depression or clinically depressed. If they do have some form of depression, very rarely will they ask for help. It’s up to you to not allow this to happen. Involve your older relatives as much as you can during the holidays. Have the family functions at their house. If they’re in an assisted living facility, visit them. If there are older adults living in your community whose family is unable to visit them, invite them over to spend the holidays with you. This is a time to spend with your family and friends. Do your part to make sure no one goes unnoticed.
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