Thanksgiving is a time of celebration and joy for most people. However, for some seniors, Thanksgiving can serve as a reminder of how lonely they truly feel. Many friends and family members who have passed, a lack of social interaction or illness can often leave a senior feeling left out or isolated. No matter the holiday, many seniors simply consider this time of year as a huge obstacle.
Common Signs of Senior Holiday Depression
Family and friends of seniors should be aware of the signs of holiday depression. Depression is more obvious in seniors who have limited family/friends and limited means of travel. Some of the most common signs of holiday depression for seniors are:
- Extreme change in sleeping habits
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Apathy or lethargy
- Abrupt change in eating habits
- Isolation from family and friends
- Lack of interest in socializing
- Verbal complaints about holiday season
- Hateful or extremely sad disposition
There are additional signs and symptoms of holiday depression for many seniors, making it important for loved ones to notice the warning signs and clues. Seniors should be provided essential care and attention to combat holiday depression and its side effects.
A Helping Hand
Making seniors feel loved, needed and special is key when dealing with holiday depression. Including seniors in the Thanksgiving festivities can provide them with a vital sense of self-worth. Whether it is setting the table, stirring the gravy or helping with arts and crafts, having a purpose can completely change the mental outlook of many seniors. Caregivers and family members of aging seniors can take the following steps to ensure the mental health and safety of their loved ones during the holiday season:
- If family members live far away, arrange to speak on the phone or via computer on a regular basis.
- Attempt to schedule visits with seniors around the Thanksgiving holiday season. This can keep seniors from feeling abandoned or forgotten by their loved ones.
- Involve seniors in holiday activities with friends and family.
- Encourage seniors to exercise. This keeps endorphins pumping within the brain.
For seniors experiencing long-term depression that seems worse during the holidays, caregivers should schedule a visit with his/her family doctor and discuss professional treatment options.