Best Ways to Tackle Depression in Older Adults During the Holidays

Best Ways to Tackle Depression in Older Adults During the Holidays

Although this season is typically viewed as the season of joy, the holidays can create feelings of depression in older adults. Longing for holidays past, despair over the loss of family members, and troublesome changes to health can magnify through the holiday season, and it’s important to take steps to help older loved ones stop the downward slope into depression.

Begin by asking yourself these three questions if a cherished older adult you love is feeling depressed this holiday season.

1. Might it be regular nostalgia? Wistful feelings of nostalgia, remembering pre-pandemic holiday get-togethers and celebrations, are normal for all of us. Determine if the senior’s sadness is lifted following a trip down memory lane, or if it lingers no matter the topic of conversation.

2. Is health impacted? If your family member is struggling to maintain a balanced and healthy diet, has trouble falling or staying asleep during the night, is losing weight, and/or feeling exhausted, these could all be indications of depression.

3. Is the senior disengaged? Look for a lack of interest in formerly-enjoyed activities, decreased motivation, challenges with focus and concentration, and/or the inability to sit still without fidgeting, as these are also common in depression.

Lara Honos-Webb, clinical psychologist and author of “Listening to Depression: How Understanding Your Pain Can Heal Your Life,” compares the distinction between depression and sadness to colors. “A person is blue if they have deep, colorful emotions in response to loss in life. Depression is more like the color black – there [are] no subtle colors to the emotion but stark pain.”

It’s important to seek medical help if depression is suspected – and even if you are not sure – as effective treatment is available and necessary, and early detection and treatment are key. And there are specific steps members of the family may take to support a senior with depression:

  • Create a list of the senior’s hobbies and interests, and set a schedule to take part in one or more of them together.
  • Encourage your loved one to work out with you, including getting outside for walks to enjoy nature.
  • Turn on some of the senior’s favorite music, or if the senior plays an instrument, request that he/she play some songs for you.
  • Stay positive yourself, providing affirmations to remind the senior of the love and of the countless small but wonderful aspects each new day brings.
  • Most of all, just be there, regardless of the senior’s mood. At times, just sitting quietly together may make an enormous amount of difference in how someone feels.

Contact Amy’s Helping Hands via our online contact form or call us at 519.915.4370 for additional resources and tips in order to help enhance senior health and wellbeing, and for the high-quality home care Windsor-Essex and other nearby areas prefer most.