For most people, the holidays represent a time of happiness and cheer. It’s the one time of the year when families make the effort to come together again, traveling from areas across the globe just to spend the holiday season with loved ones. For thousands of seniors, however, the holidays are a dangerous time, as the Christmas season tends to trigger bouts of debilitating depression.
Seniors are at a much higher risk for depression during the holidays. With the increased hours of darkness, it’s a time that can easily lower their spirits. When you add the fact that many seniors begin to think about the fact that they are physically unable to travel and be with their loved ones, or the fact that many of their closest friends and family members have passed away, it’s no wonder the holidays begin to represent sadness.
How Can You Help?
One of the most effective ways to help seniors combat the holiday blues is through socialization. If your loved one lives nearby, make it a point to stop in more often than you normally would. You’d be surprised how much a short 30 minute visit can help to uplift the spirits of a senior.
If your loved one lives too far away for a visit, then you’ll have to work extra hard during the holidays to make him or her feel included. You should make it a point to call them on the phone more frequently, often asking how he or she is feeling. If your loved one has access to a computer, you might want to think about opening a Skype account so the two of you can video chat. It’s a great way to make seniors feel a little bit closer to the family, as they can actually see your face.
When you’re living in another area, you might not be able to actually visit your loved one in the weeks leading up to Christmas. A great way to help boost his or her holiday cheer might be to ask someone to check in on them. For example, many local organizations band together during the holidays and visit seniors in their own homes. You can also do an online search for local activities that are known to fight senior depression such as exercise classes, art classes and senior dining opportunities.
While it may take a little extra effort to make a senior feel included this holiday season, it’s absolutely worth the time and your loved one’s mental wellbeing will ultimately benefit the most. After all, showing love and appreciation is what the holidays are all about!