Depression during the holidays has become an unfortunate epidemic, even among seniors.
According to Mental Health America statistics, more than 34 million seniors age 65 and older are dealing with depression in one form or another. And growing older doesn’t mean depression has to be a part of the everyday experience. Many people suffer from depression due to chronic illnesses like cancer, arthritis, heart disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Older loved ones are also more likely to be alone around the holidays. Family has moved out of state. A significant others have passed on. Friends might not keep in touch like they used to. Concerns about gift-buying and how to make ends meet, give way to feelings of guilt and helplessness. Some seniors might begin sleeping less, while others experience a loss in appetite.
Soon, depression begins to set in.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says depression is a treatable medical condition and something your loved one has the power to overcome – as long as they know how to identify it and keep it at bay.
Freedom Home Care lists some of the warning signs of depression and ways to avoid it below.
Signs Your Loved May Be Experiencing Depression
Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
Lack of energy – Fatigue
Trouble falling asleep or oversleeping
Loss of weight or appetite
Bouts of crying / sadness
Feelings of helplessness or worthlessness
Lack of concentration
Tips for Combating Depression and the Holiday Blues
Keeping your loved one connected is one of the best things you can do for them regardless of their condition. Loneliness and isolation can set in when family and friends are not around.
To help, find a designated person who can drop in and check on your senior a few times a week. Take advantage of Facetime and Skype. These mediums give you an opportunity to not only hear their voice, but see their face as well. Arrange to have your senior picked up or flown out to see family during the holidays. Keep them in mind often especially during the holiday season.
Focus More on Family, Less on Giving
Many seniors on fixed incomes and tight budgets, still want to give. Look for other ways to help them express their gratitude and love. Instead, plan a potluck where everyone makes a favorite dish and brings it for Christmas or Thanksgiving. If they’re still in the giving-giving spirit, homemade presents are one way they can contribute in a thoughtful, meaningful way.
Make Time to Volunteer
Oftentimes, helping others is the best way to ward off depression. Reach out to the local animal shelter, hospital or senior center for opportunities to volunteer. Your senior might be able to donate a few hours a week to their community or serving someone else in need.