Holiday Depression and Older Adults
The holidays can be an exciting and joyful time for many people – decorating the tree, shopping for gifts, attending the Christmas parties, and spending time with family are events that bring smiles to many faces. However, this may not be true for the senior population. Many seniors experience depression and anxiety during the holiday season and adult children and other loved ones should know the warning signs to watch for.
What Causes Holiday Depression Among Older Adults?
Senior depression during the holidays is linked to a variety of causes:
Winter blues: Depending on what climate the senior lives in, weather can play a role. Cold, icy weather combined with fewer hours of sunlight can lead to a condition called seasonal affective disorder. For some people, it can be serious enough that medical intervention is required.
Isolation: Many seniors are feeling isolated during the current pandemic. But the pandemic isn’t the only reason for feelings of isolation. For adults with mobility challenges or those who have given up driving, feeling isolated and alone during the holidays is often the culprit of their depression. It might seem to a senior that everyone has someplace to go except them.
Grief and loss: For many seniors, facing the holidays without a loved one is the source of their depression. The festivities may serve as a reminder of how the holidays were spent before a loved one’s passing.
Declining health: Health problems, especially ones that impact their ability to join in holiday parties or vacations, can trigger feelings of sadness.
What Are The Signs of Holiday Depression Among Older Adults?
According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, signs of senior depression include the following:
Prolonged sorrow and sadness (lasting for more than a few weeks)
Loss of energy and feelings of weariness
Withdrawing from favorite hobbies and social activities
Change in personality or mood
Easily tearful or quick to anger
Unintended weight gain or loss
Problems sleeping—either sleeping too much or too little
Difficulty concentrating and shortened attention span
Lack of interest in joining holiday gatherings or family parties
As we head into the holiday season, adult children and family members should be mindful of these red flags. It’s important to remember that depression is not a normal part of the aging process. Depression can be a serious health issue that requires proper medical treatment.
You may not have thought of a retirement community as a factor in senior mental health. However, if your older family member currently lives alone, it’s worth considering a move to a community where he or she can connect more easily with others in the same age group. In addition to being safer and having less upkeep to worry about, adults in senior retirement communities benefit from regularly scheduled social activities built into daily life on campus. This can improve their mental health all year round, but particularly during the holidays.
Making the decision to move into a senior living community can become difficult, visit our website for more support options.
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