Toronto Senior Health | November 18, 2015
The holiday season brings in wide variety of emotions. Happiness, sadness, anxiety, and excitement are just a few of the wide ranging emotions that come into play. For seniors and the elderly, the holiday blues can have many contributing factors: isolation from family and friends, feelings of loss and loneliness for a spouse or close friends who have passed (especially if it’s the first holiday season one faces without his or her spouse or a life-long friend), or the compounding effects of dealing with poor health…. just to name a few. Additionally, according to the American Geriatrics Society, seniors may also feel blue after the holidays if they are facing money issues, and spent beyond a budget. There are ways to manage the effects of post-holiday blues, though.
Managing Senior Post-Holiday Depression: Tips & Tricks
Go out or invite others in:
Though it may be difficult to make plans to attend events and socialize if one is feeling blue, this is the time when reaching out matters most. Even a small get together can contribute to a happier outlook on the New Year ahead. If one’s health prevents traveling, invite friends over for a simple gathering. It can make all the difference as can connecting with grandkids while they have vacations from school—even if it’s by phone, email or Skype.
Seniors can also benefit from taking time to talk about their feelings after the holidays, whether with others at a senior center or church, or with a geriatric counselor. Often times just talking about sadness helps one understand it better and feel more in control.
The holidays can be exhausting at any age, but for seniors, traveling, shopping, cooking and decorating can take a much bigger toll than it once did. It is important to note that exhaustion sometimes feels like depression, so seniors should schedule more opportunities to nap or simply get a little extra rest.
Specific tips help alleviate the post-holiday blues for seniors:
- Plan a getaway in February or March, especially some place warm. It doesn’t have to be a big, expensive trip to keep one’s spirits up and looking forward.
- Make a plan to learn something new. It can be anything from yoga exercises a person can do in a chair to learning about the computer.
- Work with family members to create visible memories of the holiday season. Collecting favorite photos and cards, and telling stories about the photos is not only entertaining, but preserves the history of a family.
- Consider taking decorations down slowly rather than all at once. Leave a wreath on the door, or garland along a bannister.
- The American Geriatric Society Foundation for Health in Aging recommends volunteering as a way to ease the post-holiday blues. This organization suggests calling the United Way or one’s church to learn about others who need help. One need not make a long-term, formal commitment to have a positive impact.
When The Post Holiday Blue Are Actually Signs Of Depression in Seniors
Sometimes feelings of depression are more than just the post-holiday blues. Below are some symptoms that may warrant treatment by a doctor.
- Inability to sleep, or excessive sleeping
- Significant loss or gain of weight
- Difficulty thinking and concentrating, or indecisiveness
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Severe fatigue or loss of energy
Those who are experiencing these symptoms should consult a doctor or a clinical counselor right away.
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- Adcox, Susan. Grandparents and the Post-Holiday Blues: How to Get Yourself Together Instead of Falling Apart. (n.d.). Retrieved December 23, 2013, from http://www.grandparents.about.com/od/celebrations/a/PostHolidayBlues.htm
- Eure, Marian A. Holiday Blues and Seniors: Feelings of sadness around the holidays often affect seniors. (2005, December 9). Retrieved December 23, 2013, from http://www.seniorhealth.about.com/od/mentalemotionalhealth/a/holiday_blues.html
- Is it Depression or Just the Blues?. (n.d.). Retrieved December 15, 2013, from http://www.webmd.com/depression/is-it-depression-or-the-blues
- Kerr, M. (2012, March 29). Holiday Depression. Retrieved December 15, 2013, from http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/holidays?toptoctest=expand
- Phillips, C. How to Beat Post Holiday Depression: 5 Tips to Head Off the Blues. (2006, December 22). Retrieved December 15, 2013, from http://www.voices.yahoo.com/how-beat-post-hliday-depression-5-tips-head-140726.html?cat
- Star, L. (n.d.). Blow Off Post-Holiday Blues. Retrieved December 15, 2013, from http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/blow-off-post-holiday-blues