Holiday Blues

Older adults can have an especially hard time with the holidays. There are many causes. The loss of an important person in the last year, or the anniversary of a loss or traumatic event can make memories come back that can dampen spirits. Family misunderstandings and conflicts can intensify — especially if it’s all thrust together for several days. Conflicts are bound to arise with so many different personalities, needs and interests. On the other hand, if he or she is facing the holidays without a loved one, he may be especially lonely or sad.

Not being able to do what they used to do in years past can be difficult to handle as an elder may be “stuck” on looking at what they used to do during the holiday season. It can be hard to cope with the reality that a six course dinner for twelve isn’t feasible anymore.

For some people, holidays are a source of stress. Falling into the trap of becoming isolated by limitations or leaning on fantasies of how holidays should be can lead to depression and can be avoided.

Elders can anticipate the stressful periods of the holiday by preparing ahead for the people and situations that create stress. Keep in mind that taking care of oneself is a gift to everyone else because everyone ends up having a happier and healthier holiday. Encourage your loved one to take some time this holiday to do a little pampering, give a gift to themself. Treat him or her to a foot bath and massage with nicely scented soap.

Develop new traditions. Space events throughout the holiday season. Take your loved one for a ride to enjoy Christmas lights. Have your parent help wrap presents. Write out Christmas cards together while listening to Christmas music. Watch a favorite Christmas movie together.

While the feeling of the blues may vanish once the holidays are over, it is possible that your loved one is experiencing true depression. Click on the key word “Depression” to go to other posts about depression.

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