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The Holiday Blues

“Tis the season to be jolly!

This action is much easier to say than to do. Many people get the holiday blues, especially older adults. Seniors are more likely to have just lost a loved one, or have learned about bad health news than their younger counterparts. The holiday season can trigger memories of loved ones who have passed away.

Events and moments like these can be turned around. By rallying around your special seniors--parents, aunts and uncles, or grandparents--you can help them to continue the tradition and create new moments.

For example, your loved ones may no longer be physically able to get all their holiday decorations in place. Turn decorating their home into a new holiday tradition for you and your family. Grandchildren and friends can get involved by moving the boxes up from the basement or attic, or by decorating the tree. Take the time to let your loved ones reminisce about some of the special ornaments.

You can help your loved ones cheer up by helping them keep busy and making them feel useful. Include them in plans and invite them to holiday activities. The older person who may be sad because he or she is no longer hosting the event can still be useful by helping prepare some of the meal.

By taking on more party planning and decorating, you should realize that older people can tire more easily, so do allow for down time during this hectic season. Have your loved ones relax and listen to holiday music. If grandchildren are coming to visit, have some old Christmas DVDs on hand. Your loved one can introduce a grandchild to a favorite movie. Keep in mind that older people with cognitive impairment may also become confused and frustrated by large crowds at holiday gatherings.

If the holiday blues persist, find ways to keep up with your loved one. Offer to drive your loved one to a religious service and attend with him or her. Watch to make sure your loved one does not drown his or her sorrows in alcohol. Alcohol does not mix with many medications. In addition, the way the body handles alcohol can change with age.

Sometimes money might be an issue for older people. Help them with their holiday shopping. If money is a concern, find inexpensive gifts for grandchildren that the grandparents can give.

If you don’t live close to your loved one, make an extra effort to communicate during the holiday season. Be sure to send a greeting card in the mail. Also, make a few quick phone calls to stay connected. If your loved one doesn’t have plans for the holidays, suggest he or she volunteer at a soup kitchen or hospital. Encourage them to make plans with friends.

If the blues go on for longer than a month, be sure to talk to your family physician to see if your loved one is suffering from depression. Depression is a life threatening illness for older people and needs to be taken seriously.

Caregivers can also feel more stress during the holiday season. Your life is already packed taking care of your own life, and someone else’s. Plus, the holidays bring extra duties. Be sure to take a break and realize that everything does not need to be perfect.

Resource: American Geriatrics Society