While the holiday season is typically a time full of joy, family, and cheer, many seniors do not experience the happiness of the holidays.  For the elderly, the holiday season can often intensify the feelings of loneliness and sadness.  During this time of year, a dramatic spike in elderly depression occurs.  According to the National Institute of Health, out of the 35 million Americans over the age of 65, over seven million suffer from some form of depression during the holiday and post-holiday season; meaning that about 20% of the senior population in America is experiencing depression during this time of year.  There are several reasons why these feelings occur, as well as things that can help to overcome the holiday blues.

If you are noticing a loved one acting differently, becoming more withdrawn, or even simply quieter this holiday season, they may be experiencing an overwhelming sense of sadness or loneliness.  During this time of year, there are several factors that can contribute to these very real feelings.  First, the holidays tend to bring back memories of the past.  The holidays focus on creating joyful memories with those whom we love, so for many seniors who have lost a loved one, these days of joy can turn into ones of sadness.  In addition, this time of year can prompt an intense feeling of isolation for seniors who live alone or in a facility.  The number of elderly who live alone is quite staggering.  According to the Administration on Aging, over 28% of people over the age of 65 live alone.  Lacking the exposure of human contact and interaction, especially during a season which focuses on it, leads many seniors to feel alone, isolated, and can even put them at an increased risk of health problems.  Living in a senior care facility, such as a nursing home or assisted living facility, can also lead to sadness and depression, as seniors long for the days where they celebrated their holiday traditions in the comforts of their own home.  While the holiday season is often difficult for many seniors, there are several senior care options that families can take to combat the feelings of sadness and loneliness during this time of year.

To make the most of the holiday season for seniors, there are a few simple things that can be done.  One of the easiest things is to provide human contact and interaction.  Being around others can do wonders to make the holidays become a little brighter.  Spending time with people offers a tremendous benefits to one’s mental and emotional health.  However, if you live out of town or do not have extra time to spend with an elderly loved one during the holiday season consider hiring an Ally Independence caregiver to offer companionship.  This caregiver can provide in home care services such as companionship, helping to prepare a meal, assisting in holiday shopping, spending time looking through photo albums of past holiday celebrations, and more.  Families can also help a senior during this time of year by creating new holiday traditions.  Instead of focusing on the past, change things up to create activities and celebrations that allow your loved one to participate to their fullest ability, wherever they may be living.  Including seniors in the celebrations and gatherings of the season, as well as getting them out into the community can be extremely beneficial to their health.  From going to view Christmas lights to helping fold napkins for a holiday meal, seniors can be involved in every aspect of the holiday season.  This feeling of inclusion aids in preventing the feelings of loneliness, at the same time refocuses their thoughts to the events of the present.  Finally, family members can become great listeners to help their loved ones through these days.  Seniors can often share memories of their past, remember what it was like to celebrate holidays when they were young, and tell stories through photo albums, video, and more.  Knowing that they have someone to talk to enhances their social connection, making seniors feel more connected with the present and to the joys of the season.

Making the holidays the most wonderful time of the year for seniors can sometimes be difficult, especially when combating a sense of sadness and loneliness; however, it is possible.  When family members are not able to directly provide the support that their elderly loved one needs, in home care Sacramento organization Ally Independence is a terrific option.  Being able to provide elderly care such as companionship through qualified caregivers allows seniors to experience the holidays with cheer and laughter, and allows family members to know that their loved one is safe, happy, and healthy.  Let us be an ally in preventing your loved one from experiencing the holiday blues.