For most people, the holidays are full of glittering lights, parties with friends, reunions and gift giving. They are a time of happiness, excitement and nostalgia. But not everyone looks forward to the season.
Many people find the holidays a very difficult time, and may deal with overwhelming stress, fatigue and depression. Whether facing financial issues, discouraged with the materialism associated with the holiday, or feeling lost and alone – the holidays bring up many emotions. These can be especially hard to navigate for those in assisted living and memory care facilities. Here are some tips on helping your loved ones to face holiday depression.
If you have a loved one in a senior living facility, you should be aware of the signs of holiday depression. Generally, depression is more prevalent in those seniors who have fewer family and friends, infrequent visitors, and no means of getting around on their own. Some of the more common indications of holiday depression for those in assisted living or memory care facilities include:
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- No interest in once-favorite hobbies
- Increased anxiety, apathy or lethargy
- Lack of interest in socializing, even with loved ones
- Complaining about the holiday season, hateful or angry comments
How to Deal with Holiday Depression
The best way to deal with seasonal depression is making your elder relatives feel loved, appreciated and special. Kick off the holiday season by including your loved one in Thanksgiving dinner, either by bringing them to your holiday dinner, or creating one for them at their facility. If you bring them to your home, making them feel needed is a great mood booster. Perhaps they can help to set the table, stir the gravy, or put the biscuits in a breadbasket – anything to include them in the preparation of the all important meal. Make sure they have attention given to them throughout the day and evening, and that they are attended to as needed.
For both Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are several ways we suggest to stave off holiday depression for your loved ones:
- If possible, consider bringing your relative to your home for the festivities. Depending on their physical and mental well bring, you ,ay be able to bring them for an extended visit. Being in a familiar place, among friends and loved ones, is a great antidote for depression. You may wish to check with the professionals at the facility as to any concerns they may have, as well as advice on medications and schedules.
- If family members do not live close by, plan to speak on the phone or via a computer on a regular basis. This is important not only on the actual holiday itself, but throughout the weeks and months surrounding them.
- Schedule visits throughout the holiday season. If you have a network of family and friends within a reasonable distance, set up a schedule so that your loved one has company on a regular basis. In fact, this is not only a good idea for the holiday season, but throughout the year to make sure they don’t feel isolated or alone.
- Don’t forget to involve your loved ones in other holiday events, such as school recitals, church attendance, tree lightings, or Christmas parades. This will make them feel a part of the entire celebration of the holidays.
- Given the temperate climate of Venice, it is easy to keep an exercise schedule throughout the winter months. Encourage exercise if appropriate, by taking walks whenever possible. This type of activity keeps positive endorphins flowing to the brain. Combining visits with structured walks is a great way to interact and combat holiday depression.Depression can creep up on anyone, but residents of assisted living facilities can be particularly vulnerable. The professionals at A Banyan Residence are committed to providing a stimulating and fulfilling environment, but we always encourage family involvement and participation. Call us today for a tour or to discuss your loved one’s needs.