November 15, 2018 by Dean Bellefeuille

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Ah, the holidays: they’re either the most wonderful time of the year, or the most difficult. For many older adults who have lost loved ones, are battling chronic health conditions, or are experiencing isolation and loneliness, the holidays can trigger depression. And, the family caregivers who care for a senior loved one are also susceptible to holiday blues, due to the overabundance of stress.

It is possible, however, to restore the holiday season to a time of joy. At Home Independent Living offers the following suggestions:

Seek medical assistance. First and foremost, it’s important to relay any suspected signs of depression (changes in sleeping and eating patterns, lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities and socialization, lethargy and persistent sadness) to your senior loved one’s (or your) primary care physician. There are effective treatment options available, and it’s important to rule out any other medical concerns.

Make healthy choices. With so many high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt foods available during the holidays, it’s easy to let a healthy diet slip and overindulge. Yet eating unhealthy, as well as consuming too much alcohol, can contribute to feelings of depression. It’s also important to get plenty of sleep; eight hours is ideal for most adults.

Start new traditions. Often for older adults, holiday traditions have had to change over time. Creating a new normal isn’t always easy, but can lead to renewed interest in holiday festivities. Try joining in an evening of caroling, a shopping and lunch outing at a new location, attending the local high school’s holiday play or performance, etc.

Reminisce. Rather than avoiding emotional conversations about lost loved ones or holidays past, encourage the senior to share memories, and take plenty of time to listen and engage in the conversation. Looking through photos or watching home movies can help the person process the loss and begin to move forward towards acceptance and peace.

Help another. Nothing boosts our spirits quite like knowing we’ve helped someone else. Seek out opportunities for your senior loved one to volunteer in some capacity to help those in need: baking cookies for a local homeless shelter, picking up small toys and gifts to deliver to the children’s hospital, assembling care packages for those in the military, etc.

For further tips to encourage your senior loved one to remain active and engaged throughout the holidays and all year long, contact At Home Independent Living’s home care experts. Our fully trained caregivers are experienced in helping older adults live life to the fullest, and we’re here for you with as much or as little assistance as needed. Call us at (315) 579-HOME (4663) to learn more.