The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can be a special time to get together with family and friends and to take part in fun, familiar traditions that may include music, decorating, food and other festivities.
However, for many Americans – especially senior citizens – the holiday season can bring on feelings of loss and sadness. Declining health, the death of a spouse and memories of happier times can contribute to what is commonly called the “holiday blues.” According to Mental Health America, about two million seniors suffer from some form of depression. The holiday season can be especially hard on seniors who are already trying to cope with physical and emotional challenges.
Here are five ways to help beat the holiday blues:
The holidays offer many opportunities to go to cultural events, such as concerts and plays. These activities are a good way to lift your mood and your spirits by being around other people.
These events need not be costly. Many schools, churches and non-profit organizations offer free or low-cost performances.
A great way to lift your own spirits is by helping others. Contact schools, charitable groups and places of worship about seasonal volunteer opportunities. Ideas include making or serving food at a shelter, shopping for or wrapping gifts for needy children, visiting the home bound or caroling.
Shorter daylight hours and colder temperatures can make us less active this time of year. However, lack of exercise can contribute to depression. Plan to get up and move each day. If it is sunny, take a 30-minute walk outside. If it is too wintery to head outdoors, take a low-impact exercise class or swim at your local indoor pool. Many shopping malls have times set aside for indoor walking groups.
Exercise classes not only help you get in better shape, they can help you feel better too. Studies have shown that 30 minutes of exercise can trigger the production of mood-lifting endorphins in your brain.
Embrace your past.
Holiday ornaments and songs can trigger powerful memories of times gone by. You may feel that if you avoid them, you will avoid the pain that comes with remembering the past. However, music and decorations are also a link to happy memories, so don’t feel you need to abandon all your holiday traditions.
Get together with your family members and look at photos, or hang up a few treasured mementos as you embrace the good memories of the loved ones you miss and the memories you shared. Maybe you can’t have a big tree or hang up as many lights, but you can ask for help in putting up some of your favorite decorations and in finding some of your favorite holiday CDs.
Make new traditions.
You are never too old to try something new. If you can’t spend all day baking dozens and dozens of cookies like you once did, how about baking a special pie?
Hoping your holiday season be a wonderful and pain free experience. However, when families get together, sometimes they are made aware of pains and struggles made more apparent among their elderly family members. If this happens to you, know our condolences are yours, and that we are available 24/7 with our on call nurse at our main office phone 801.851.0424. No matter what you are concerned about, give us a call and our experts can lead you closely through the process of elderly health care.