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Help Combat Depression in Older Adults this Holiday Season

Help Combat Depression in Older Adults this Holiday Season

Ways to Help Make Senior Spirits Bright

The holidays are upon us, and it is looking like the season may return to a more normal state

with regard to get-togethers, celebrations and other festivities. According to a 2021 Holiday

Travel Survey by The Vacationer, Americans are looking forward to getting out and about, with 63 percent of adults aged 18 and older planning to travel for at least one holiday this year. That

comfort level, however, is not extending to older adults, with more than half of those over the age of 60 not planning to travel at all this holiday season.

Although the holidays should bring a spirit of joy and kinship with family and loved ones,

isolation from celebrations and festivities, combined with grief over family and friends falling ill

or passing away and decreased energy and mobility in some older adults, can lead to feelings of

loneliness, disconnection and sadness this holiday season.

Combating Loneliness Over the Holidays

Whether or not you can be physically together over the holidays, try to combat sadness and

loneliness in older adults by lifting their spirits. Here are some tips:

  • Show them they are loved
  • Encourage participation in festivities to the level they feel comfortable
  • Keep them connected through cards, photographs – even drawings
  • If they live in a long-term care facility, check to see what holiday activities are happening
  • Check into social and/or spiritual support through your loved one’s religious organization
  • Get their living space festive by adding decorations and other seasonal touches
  • Spend some time cooking or baking treats with your loved one

When Loneliness Becomes Depression

In some cases, the sadness and loneliness felt by some older adults can turn into depression—but how do you know? If you suspect a loved one may be depressed, look for the following

warning signs, which often may last for more than two weeks:

  • Empty or sad feeling
  • Ongoing anxiety
  • Tired or low energy
  • Lack of interest in everyday activities
  • Sleep problems
  • Over or undereating
  • Crying – often or excessively
  • Aches and pains that don’t go away, even when treated
  • Focus or memory troubles
  • Feeling guilty, helpless, worthless or hopeless
  • Irritable
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Attempted suicide

Before you get too busy with the hustle and bustle of holiday travel and shopping, gift wrapping

and more, take a moment to consider the older adults in your life and do a health check. If

you are concerned your loved one may be suffering from depression, do not ignore the signs—seek help for them. The Geriatric Behavioral Health Unit at Southwest General specializes in the needs of older adults with acute psychiatric and behavioral issues and is here to guide you. For more information and admission criteria, call 440-816-6944.