The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time of good cheer, parties and family gatherings, but it is not unusual for many of us to feel sad, lonely or even anxious during the holidays. This condition, which has come to be called “holiday blues,” can occur with any holiday or vacation time. It commonly happens at the end of the year when it can seem that just about everyone is celebrating in some way. High expectations, loneliness and stress can lead to holiday blues during the season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. In most cases symptoms are temporary, but they can be serious if they last for more than two weeks, leading to clinical anxiety and/or depression.
Why are seniors susceptible?
Many factors can contribute to feelings of sadness that seniors may feel around the holidays. The holidays can heighten feelings of grief and loss for seniors adjusting to changes related to the process of aging, such as life without a loved one or close friends, ill health, or a move from a lifelong family home into a retirement home or senior community. They may feel guilty about having feelings of sadness which may in turn intensify those feelings of sadness.
How to manage the holiday blues?
The holiday blues can be a normal response to a stress-filled time of the year, but seniors don’t have to suffer unnecessarily. Mental Health America, a non-profit dedicated to helping Americans lead mentally healthier lives, offers the following tips for coping with stress:
• Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Try to set realistic goals. Make a list and prioritize the important activities.
• Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be present, even if the person chooses not to express them.
• Leave yesteryear in the past and look toward to the future. Life brings changes. Don’t set yourself up in comparing today with the “good ol’ days.”
• Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some of your time to help others.
• Enjoy activities that are free, such as taking a drive to look at holiday decorations.
• Be aware that excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
• Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
• Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends, or contact someone you haven’t heard from in a while.
• Find a family member, friend, member of the clergy, or a physician or professional counselor you can talk with who can help you through this difficult time.
When is it more serious than just the holiday blues?
While they may be intense and unsettling, holiday blues are usually short-lived, lasting for a few days to a few weeks prior to or just after the holiday. However, it is important for family members, physicians and other caregivers to be alert to signs of something more serious than just seasonal sadness. Many elderly individuals may feel that depression is a natural part of aging and may not seek treatment on their own.
Depression is a very real and serious disease that can be treated and managed, but can be life-threatening if left untreated. The signs of depression include: sadness that won’t lift; loss of interest or pleasure; changes in appetite and weight; thoughts of death or suicide. If you notice that a loved one seems depressed, encourage them to talk to their healthcare provider.
How can Excellent Care help?
The friendly, experienced, and knowledgeable team members can help reduce your stress during the holidays by assisting with any home care services needed. During this time of year, we are often busy and having someone to help manage daily health activities can prevent stress and allow you to enjoy the festivities to the fullest.
If health issues prevent you from participating in social events, or if you are lonely and missing loved ones during this time of year, a Excellent Care can keep you company and make ensure you are properly taking care of yourself to prevent holiday blues and worsening health conditions.
If diagnosed with depression, elderly patients may respond more readily when receiving care in the comfort of home, surrounded by their family and possessions. Excellent Care offers an in-home care program to assist patients, families and caregivers affected by depression and other behavioral health disorders to journey towards wholeness. Services include stabilization, medication management, family interventions and long-term management.
If you have any questions about the various home care services provided by Excellent Care, please call 561-290-1100 today. We are here to help in any way that we can.