Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Do you or an elderly parent have the Holiday Blues?

By Bob Gregory

Holiday HDR
Holiday HDR (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)
Yes, the Holidays are once again upon us!  It’s that happy time of year when family and friends gather to share friendship, love, food, drink and gifts.  The Holidays are filled with dinners, parties, shows and good times.  They are also filled with lots of traveling and visiting distant relatives or friends.  We get a chance to catch up on what’s going on in everyone’s lives as well as reminisce about the good ole days.  All we have to do to enjoy the Holidays is to survive the stress!  Yes, the shopping, planning, preparing, traveling and deadline meeting can create a great deal of stress even if all you have to do is sit back and watch someone else do it all for you!  It’s no wonder why some people, especially our elderly, seem to have the “Holiday Blues”.

I often hear how people sometimes feel depressed around the Holidays and they don’t understand why.  This is especially true for the elderly.  To begin, Holidays do not cause Depression!  Depression is a medical condition and should be treated as such.  Its causes are much more profound than a “time” of year known as the Holidays.  If you feel you or an elderly parent may be Depressed, then see your doctor immediately…you need to seek treatment.  I do not want to confuse what I term as the “Holiday Blues” with the medical condition of Depression because they are not the same and while Depression is common in older adults, it is not caused by aging.

Most anyone can experience Holiday Blues but they seem to be more prevalent in our elderly.  I’ve spoken with quite a few elders who tried to describe why they feel “blue” or down during the Holidays and they all refer to many similar causes. 

Some common causes for the Holiday Blues:

  1. Feelings of loss—Holidays are generally highlighted by family and friends getting together to enjoy each others’ company and share the joy of the Season.  If you are fortunate to live a long life and you are counted among the group we refer to as our Elderly, then you have certainly lost family members and friends.  Most family or friends who have passed on are missed most during the Holidays—that time when all use to gather.  Remembering the loss of family or friends can certainly make anyone feel blue and not having them around to reminisce about the past or create new memories can certainly make you feel sad.
  2. Feelings of loneliness—Not everyone has family and friends to visit during the Holidays, especially those in Senior Facilities.   Most Senior Facilities do a great job decorating and 
    Holiday Blues
    Holiday Blues (Photo credit: CJ Schmit)
    providing entertainment and activities but it’s very easy to still feel lonely in the middle of a crowd, especially if you miss being with family and friends.
  3. Financial Stress—Holidays are a time for shopping for gifts, new outfits, decorations, party supplies and holiday trimmings.  However, for those struggling financially, it can be very “depressing” not to be able to afford all the goodies that tempt our purse during the Holidays.
  4. Physical or mental illnesses—There is nothing that dampers the Holiday Spirit more than being ill!  It can be very saddening to have the desire to participate in Holiday festivities and yet be too ill.
Understanding the causes doesn’t necessarily make Holiday Blues easier to accept or cope with, but it can be a step toward combating the “blues”.  The great thing about speaking with people who understand what makes them blue during the Holidays is they usually have a coping technique or two!  These may sound simple, but they are easier to write about than to practice:

Some techniques to cope with the Holiday Blues;

  1. Focus on the positives of your life today and in the past.  Old memories of good times can provide comfort and warmth especially if you share those memories with new friends!  Find the good points of your life—they’re present but you may have to look for them.
    Holiday Sing-a-Long
    Holiday Sing-a-Long 
  2. Give of yourself.  This is probably one of the most positive coping skills I’ve come across.  If you take the time to look around you, you will certainly find someone whose life isn’t quite as fulfilled as yours.  Take the time to do something good for someone who does not have as much in their life as you.  Take the time out of your life to share a kind word, happy memory or just listen to the other person’s woes.  You’ll be surprised at how good both of you will feel.
  3. Accept other peoples’ kindness graciously.  If you are feeling down, it’s very hard to allow someone else to “cheer” you up.  Make an effort to be receptive to others attempts to help you! 
If you have an elderly parent in a Senior Facility, take the time to make their Holidays a little more cheery!  Keep in mind we all will age and the examples we set for our children with our own parents may determine how you will spend your Holidays in the future!  If you don’t have elderly parents, then try to be a friend to someone who does not have family.  Most Senior Facilities will certainly connect you with a resident in need of Holiday Cheer!

If would like a list Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes or any other type of Senior Facility, I hope you will consider www.seniorfacilityfinder.com
If you would like to contribute your thoughts and ideas, please leave them in our comment section. We want to hear them. Helping people care for themselves or their loved ones is what we care about. 

We look forward to reading yours.

Bob Gregory is an advocate for Seniors and is one of the founders of www.seniorfacilityfinder.com. At SeniorFacilityFinder.com, we are dedicated to helping families get the Elder Care help they need without having to provide their personal information! If find you need an assisted living facility or other type of senior facility, please consider www.seniorfacilityfinder.com
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  1. Find a new york retirement community that offers facilities and activities for a healthy living. Even in the old age, one should stay active. Making the blues go away.

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