Ah, the holidays: they’re either the most wonderful time of the year, or perhaps the most difficult. For many older adults who have lost family members, are fighting chronic health conditions, or are going through isolation and loneliness, the holiday season can trigger depression. And, the family caregivers who care for a senior loved one are also vulnerable to holiday blues, due to an excess of stress.
It’s possible, however, to restore the holiday season to a period of joy. Visiting Care Giving Services, the leading provider of home care in Wentzville and the surrounding areas, shares the following guidelines:
Seek medical assistance. First of all, it is important to communicate any suspected symptoms of depression (alterations in sleeping and eating behaviors, lack of interest in previously enjoyed hobbies and socializing, sluggishness, and constant sadness) to a senior loved one’s primary care doctor. There are a number of successful treatment options available for depression and anxiety. Additionally, it’s also important to rule out other health concerns.
Make healthy choices. With the amount of high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt foods available through the holiday season, it is easy to let a balanced and healthy diet slip and overindulge. But eating unhealthy, in addition to consuming a lot of alcohol, can cause feelings of depression. It’s equally important to get plenty of sleep; eight hours is most beneficial for most adults.
Start new traditions. In many cases for aging parents, holiday traditions have had to change as time passes. Starting a new normal is not always easy, but could lead to restored interest in holiday festivities. Try joining in a night of caroling, a shopping and lunch outing, going to the local high school’s holiday play or performance, etc.
Reminisce. Rather than avoiding emotionally-charged conversations about lost loved ones or holidays past, encourage the senior to talk about memories, and take enough time to pay attention and participate in the discussion. Looking through pictures or watching home movies may help your senior loved one process the loss and begin to move forward toward acceptance and comfort.
Help another. Practically nothing improves our spirits quite like knowing we have helped another person. Search for opportunities for the senior to volunteer in some way to help people in need: baking treats for a local homeless shelter, buying small toys and gifts to deliver to the children’s hospital, putting together care packages for people in the armed forces, etc.
For more ideas to motivate an older adult to remain active and engaged throughout the holidays and all year long, call Visiting Care Giving Services’ home care experts. Our fully trained caregivers are knowledgeable in helping older adults live life to the fullest, and we’re here for you with as much or as little assistance as needed. Contact us at (636) 493-9058 to learn more.