4 Reasons Seniors Become Depressed Around the Holidays

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4 Reasons Your Elderly Loved One May Become Depressed Around the Holidays

By Ted Holmgren, 9:00 am on December 21, 2015

While holidays are normally some of the happiest times of the year, they can also be difficult for our senior loved ones. Some seniors receiving elderly home care in Scottsdale may experience depression around the holiday season for a variety of reasons. Be on the lookout for these common causes of holiday senior depression and ways you can prevent or alleviate them. 

1. Missing Lost Loved Ones

Many seniors are facing the loss of close friends, spouses, or siblings. The holiday season can be difficult for anyone experiencing loss, even if the loss wasn’t recent, because it is a time of year when we wish lost loved ones could be present to make new memories. Consider trying to include some new family traditions alongside the old ones this year. While losing old traditions might be difficult for your loved one, new ones are less likely to remind him or her of those who have passed. Another thing you can do is ensure your loved one has plenty of company and positive attention during the holidays. Spending time with loved ones can be some of the best medicine for staving off depression. If your loved one does become depressed, take some time to talk with him or her about the loss. You can share favorite holiday memories or look at old photo albums. Sometimes a reminder that the lost loved one is still in the heart is exactly the comfort a senior needs. 

2. Decreased Abilities

Holidays can cause seniors to remember a time when they were more capable, energetic, and independent. If your loved one enjoyed cooking and hosting the holiday meal but is no longer able to, this may bring to mind how many things have changed and activities that are no longer doable. Help your loved one focus on the good parts of the current holiday. For instance, bring young grandchildren or nieces and nephews by for caroling, cookies, and cuddles. Your loved one will have a harder time feeling sad or wishing it was the past when spending time with family in the here and now. Another helpful way to ward off depression is to include your loved one in the holiday planning and give him or her small tasks to accomplish. This way, your loved one can feel a sense of ownership like when he or she was younger and will be less likely to think about the things he or she can’t do. 

3. Limits in Mobility

Many seniors choose to stop driving or simply become unable to do so safely. Likewise, many seniors have limited mobility, making independence once arriving at a desired location difficult as well. Unfortunately, seniors often long to get out and do things during this time of year. The holiday season is a time for festive cheer,

spending time with friends and family, and enjoying holiday events. Some seniors may feel incapable of doing the things they would like to do out of the house, which can cause frustration or depression. To help your loved one through this time, look for alternatives to help him or her do as many things as possible. If your loved one doesn’t have many holiday plans, try to include him or her in some of yours. Arrange transportation for your loved one to get to desired events, such as asking a friend to help or hiring a Scottsdale hourly caregiver. Putting the power back in your loved one’s hands for even a few outings can help significantly in reducing the likelihood he or she will become depressed. 

4. Winter Weather

December is not only the start of the holiday season, but is also the time when the weather changes. Temperatures drop and days become shorter, providing less light. Often, a drop in temperature can be uncomfortable for seniors. Those who have arthritis can experience pain from pressure changes, and seniors often have a harder time staying warm than younger adults. Additionally, the lack of light can make many people more likely to experience seasonal affective disorder, also know as winter depression. Though the weather can’t be changed, there are some things you can do to make this time of year easier for your loved one. Ensure the heat in your loved one’s home is turned on and to the temperature he or she prefers to prevent fumbling with the thermostat on a cold day. Make sure your loved one has plenty of easily accessible blankets and consider investing in an EdenPURE or other modern brand of space heater. These heaters are much safer than their older counterparts and easier for seniors to use. If you notice a pattern of your loved one being sad throughout previous winters, schedule a doctor’s appointment to talk about treatments for seasonal affective disorder as well.

Making sure your loved one has companionship and emotional support throughout the holidays and the rest of the year can help stave off loneliness and depression. Consider a professional caregiver from Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers can provide companionship for your loved one and assist with a wide variety of daily tasks. We also offer specialized Parkinson’s, stroke, and dementia care Scottsdale families trust. For more information and to schedule a free consultation, call one of our qualified Care Managers at 480.448.6215.