Depression in Older Adults During the Holidays and How You Can Help

: A woman experiencing depression in older adults during the holidays holds a cup of coffee while staring blankly into the distance.

While the holiday season is widely associated with joy, for many older adults, it can be a time of deep despair. Nostalgia for past celebrations, the loss of loved ones, and health-related challenges can intensify feelings of sadness, making it crucial to take proactive steps to prevent seniors from descending into depression during this time. If you’re concerned about depression in older adults during the holidays impacting someone you love, consider asking yourself these three essential questions.

Normal Nostalgia or Something More?

Reflect on whether the older adult’s sadness is rooted in normal nostalgia or if it hints at a more profound issue. Wistful feelings about pre-pandemic holiday gatherings are normal, but observe if the sadness persists across various topics. A trip down memory lane might lift their spirits momentarily, but lingering sadness could indicate a more serious concern.

Impact on Health:

Assess whether the senior’s emotional state is impacting their physical health. Difficulty maintaining a healthy diet, sleep disturbances, weight loss, and fatigue can be indicators of depression. Paying attention to these health-related signs is crucial for early detection and intervention.

Signs of Disengagement:

Look for signs of disengagement, such as a loss of interest in once-enjoyed hobbies, decreased motivation, difficulty concentrating, and restlessness. These behavioral changes can be indicative of depression and should be addressed promptly.

Understanding Depression

Lara Honos-Webb, a clinical psychologist and author, highlights the difference between sadness and depression. She likens sadness to vibrant colors, while depression is akin to the starkness of black, devoid of subtle shades. Seeking medical assistance when depression is suspected is crucial, as effective treatment is available, and early detection is paramount.

Supportive Steps for Family Members

If depression is identified or suspected, family members can take specific steps to support an older loved one:

  • Engage in Hobbies: Create a list of the senior’s hobbies and interests and schedule time to participate in them together.
  • Encourage Physical Activity: Support the person in staying active by exercising together, including outdoor walks to appreciate nature.
  • Music Therapy: Play the senior’s favorite music or encourage them to play their own instrument if they have one.
  • Positive Affirmations: Be a source of positivity, offering affirmations to remind the senior of the small but wonderful aspects of each day.
  • Simply Be There: Sometimes, the most significant impact comes from merely being present. Spend quiet moments together, offering companionship irrespective of the older adult’s mood.

For additional resources and tips on improving the health and well-being of older loved ones, contact Heaven at Home Senior Care at 940-380-0500 in Denton or 972-245-1515 in Dallas. We’re pleased to support older adults in Denton, Plano, University Park, and the surrounding areas. Together, we can ensure that every day is the best it can be for our senior community.