While many individuals associate the holidays with happy times, they aren’t an easy time for everyone. The elderly can be especially vulnerable to the blues, both during and after the holidays. If you think your elderly loved one is suffering from depression during this time, they are far from alone. According to studies done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an estimated 7 million American adults over 65 experience depression each year. Below we cover the causes of the holiday blues, and how you can help your loved one navigate their way through the holiday season.
Causes and complications of the holiday blues
Depression occurring on or around the holidays is often referred to as “the holiday blues.” However, if symptoms persist, the best course of action is to take your loved one to the doctor. Doing so will allow for depression treatment to take place sooner rather than later, and allow any underlying illnesses that could be the cause of this depression to be identified.
The holiday blues in the elderly can be caused by several factors:
- The loss of a spouse or other family members and friends.
- No longer being able to live in their own home.
- The transition of moving from a home into assisted living.
- A loss of independence preventing them from celebrating the holidays the way they used to.
- The inability to leave the house on their own to attend holiday events or visit friends and family.
How you can help
- Talk to your loved one about their feelings, and remind them that they are not alone. If they’re willing to talk, be a good listener!
- Be sure to visit more often. If you are unable to visit because of long distance, call often and ask other family members or relatives nearby to check in.
- Plan holiday activities you can do together. Help your loved one decorate, or make some holiday gifts together while sharing happy memories. If they reside in an assisted living facility, help them decorate their room.
- Get your loved one out and about visiting friends and family, or take a drive to check out the local Christmas lights. This can help your loved one feel less shut in.
The holiday blues aren’t just limited to the elderly—they can affect caregivers too. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Loretto offers resources that can help. We offer 19 specialized care programs, including our Assisted Living Program. In addition to offering special activities to help older adults during the holidays, Loretto also offers a year-round “One-to-One” Volunteer Program. Sponsored by Interfaith Works Agency, this program supports older adults who are lonely, who have very few visitors, and/or have little, or no, family support. Interested in learning more about our services? Contact us today!