The holiday season is the happiest time of year for most people, but for others, and some seniors, the holidays can mean combating sadness, loneliness, and depression. This year with the on-going threat of covid-19, and the impact it can have on the seniors in your life, the stress and sadness that the holiday season can bring will only be heightened. We wanted to share some ideas on how you can help the seniors in your life get joy out of this season.
Recognizing Warning Signs of Depression
The holiday blues are usually temporary with mild symptoms of sadness, while depression can be more serious, and stick around unless you seek professional help.
Here are some signs of depression that you should watch for:
- Frequent sadness.
- Change in normal sleep patterns, restlessness, or sleeping more than normal.
- Changes in weight or appetite.
- No interest in activities they used to love.
Another great tool if you are concerned a senior in your life may be depressed is using the Geriatric Scale for Depression. This scale was developed by J.A Yesavage and colleagues 20 years ago as a tool to help diagnose seniors with depression. This article from the National Care Planning Council said “A score above 9 usually indicates depression. With these results on the Geriatric Depression Scale, the elderly patient can receive further clinical evaluation for symptoms of depression. In this study, 40 percent of the 816 elderly patients screened, indicated possible depression on the first 5 questions, 17 percent indicated possible depression on the entire 15 question scale (Weeks, 2003, p. 136).” Depression can be treated, if you believe you may be battling depression please reach out to a professional.
How To Fight the Holiday Blues
If you think they may just be fighting off a little bit of the holiday blues, here are some things to try that may help seniors have a joyful holiday season!
- Reminiscing on old memories and photos with family and friends can be a great way to bring a smile to a senior’s face. This can make them feel fulfilled with all the wonderful memories they have made over the years. Make sure you are really engaged, listening, and participating as they share their stories.
- Strengthening relationships by doing things such as making a daily list of people to call, or scheduling a video chat with them to catch up can help a senior feel less lonely and help them create stronger bonds.
- Use the power of social media to connect! Many seniors are already using social media platforms to stay connected with family and friends. This way even if they are unable to come visit they are able to see what old friends are up to or pictures of their grandchildren. Offering to help get a senior set up on a social media platform, since they may not know how to get started, is a great way to keep them connected this holiday season and after.
- Visiting faith-based organizations during the holidays can help provide seniors with a feeling of community and hope. Having a place to pray and worship with a church family can provide a lot of comfort to those that may feel lonely throughout this season.
- If a senior is going to be alone a lot during the holidays consider hiring an in-home companion for your senior to help around the house, spend time doing some of the above activities, helping decorate, or just being a friend to spend time with! If you are interested in looking into this, download our app here.
Safety for Seniors This Holiday Season
As people age their immune system slowly starts to decline which can make it very difficult for seniors to fight off infection. During the holidays, seniors and loved ones should take extra precautions to protect themselves due to their increased chance of contracting illnesses such as COVID-19, common colds, and the flu. Traveling and being in large groups of people are all common during this time of year but can be riskier for seniors as they get older. Here are a few tips we think may be helpful for keeping seniors healthy.
- If a senior is attending a holiday gathering try to keep the guest list a little smaller this year in order to keep them less exposed to COVID-19 or other illnesses that float around this time of year. Also, asking guests that will be attending to limit contact with others for 14 days leading up to the event is another great precaution to take.
- If seniors are having to travel in order to attend holiday gatherings, encourage them to wear a mask to protect themselves while they travel.
- Try to maintain as much social distance as possible while traveling and at holiday gatherings.
- Encourage frequent hand-washing while socializing and gathering this year.
No matter what your holidays are going to look like this year make sure that you make it a priority to spend time with your senior family members if possible and let them know how much they mean to you. We hope that you all stay safe, healthy, and have a wonderful holiday season.
Dwell at Home is here to help.
Dwell at Home is bringing in-home senior care into the palm of your hand with a mobile application that values convenience, personalized mentorship, and trust. You can download the app in the Apple App store today by clicking here!
Dwell at Home is not a licensed medical professional and all information provided is provided “as is” with no warranties. You should consult a licensed physician for any questions related to your health. Dwell at Home makes no guarantee about any application or third party web site mentioned in any article on this web site.