As experts in senior caregiving, we know, for seniors, nothing is more mood-lifting than getting a visit from a loved one, whether a child, grandchild, sibling, or just a friend. Many holidays, particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas, are tough for seniors, who may suffer from depression, dementia, or other issues. Living alone is another factor for seniors who seem to be sad or depressed.
As the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” While that may be true for many of us, for those who are in their golden years and who live alone, the holidays can bring about a feeling of isolation and loneliness. As trusted San Francisco in-home senior caregivers, if you wonder why an aging parent, aunt, or uncle seems unusually sad or depressed, we have a few possible reasons.
Depression. For some seniors, depression around the holidays is nothing to be overly concerned about. This is a normal feeling for many, who remember holidays of long ago and how life “used to be.” However, if depression seems to be a normal occurrence, it may be necessary to speak with your loved one’s doctor.
Arthritis or other medical issues that may limit mobility. When an elderly loved one is forced to use a walker, cane, or other device to assist in getting around, it can put a damper on mood, simply because they cannot fully participate in the celebration.
Financial stress. Most seniors live on a fixed income, and have little money to spare for Christmas gifts for family and loved ones. It can be very upsetting when an elderly person is unable to do what he/she would like to do to express love and to celebrate the holidays. Some even feel embarrassed when it comes time to open gifts, feeling that what they give is inadequate compared to holidays when they were younger.
Memories. Certainly those who are growing older cherish their favorite memories, but memories can make us sad as well. Elderly loved ones may remember a spouse who has passed, or the happy times they enjoyed with their spouse/children decades ago. It is understandable that fond memories during happier times that you know will never happen again can bring on feelings of sadness.
Living alone. Socializing is important for everyone, even those who are getting up there in years. Most seniors live alone, which in some cases means a lack of contact with others on a regular basis. If your loved one lives alone, encourage him/her to visit with neighbors and get out as much as possible to avoid depression or sadness. Also, make time in your busy schedule to visit your aging loved one as often as possible.
Companionship is extremely important in the mental health of seniors. If you live too far away to visit on a regular basis or check on how an aging parent is doing, consider home care providers who not only offer companion services, but help with cooking, housekeeping, dressing, taking medication, running errands, and more. Having someone around to simply talk to, read with, or go places with can make an incredible difference in a loved one’s outlook.