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Help Your Aging Loved One Sidestep the Holiday Blues

Old woman

Merry tunes, shelves brimming with pretty packages, twinkling lights and festive gatherings are all hallmarks of the holidays. Unfortunately, not everyone feels jolly during this often hectic, over-scheduled time of year. The holidays can elicit feelings of loneliness and even depression in the elderly. Some of it may be the changing of the seasons—seasonal affective disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a form of depression triggered by the switching seasons.  It often strikes in the fall and winter months and can leave a person feeling sluggish and moody.  Other factors may be at work too. Declining health, memories of happier times with friends and loved ones who have fallen ill or passed away, mental confusion, even hearing loss can all contribute to an elderly person’s sense of isolation and sadness.

So how can you help your loved one feel merrier? Agingcare.com’s article, Reducing Loneliness in Elders Around the Holidays, offers these suggestions: help them decorate their home or residence with cherished momentos from past holidays, take them to see young children in a choir or theatrical performance, involve them in the planning of family get-togethers, and above all, take the time to sit and talk with them about how they are doing and feeling. Letting your loved one know you are willing to listen can go a long way towards improving their spirits. The National Care Planning Council’s article Holiday Blues-Depression Among the Elderly lists a number of ways to help your elderly loved one feel involved during the holidays. Simple things like helping them write letters and taking them to church or to visit friends will keep them engaged socially and bring them joy and laughter. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

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