Reprinted by permission, Oasis Senior Advisors
If you are a caregiver or family member of an aging loved one, you may observe a change in their mood or behavior during the holidays. You may notice unusual signs of fatigue or sadness or perhaps limited interest in the holiday season. There is so much pressure to enjoy yourselves around this time of year. Reality is that many people feel isolated and unhappy during the holiday season, especially seniors.
Aging can bring a lot of experience and wisdom, but there are also inevitable losses that even the healthiest senior may face. Friends and loved ones falling ill and passing away, energy and mobility levels decrease, neighborhoods changing over time are just a few reasons why seniors have feelings of loneliness, lost opportunity and independence.
Helpful Steps to Lift Seniors’ Spirits
It’s so important to remember what the holiday is truly about even when you are wrapped up in your own holiday preparations. If you think that your parent, spouse, friend or neighbor may be depressed, there are some steps that you can take to lift their spirits.
- Make a point to listen when they talk, even if it brings negativity. It will most likely reveal why they are feeling down and help you to find a way to lift their spirits.
- Remind them how important they are to you, your family members, and the holiday celebrations. Encourage them to help where they can and are capable of. Show them they are loved.
- Sit with them while they open their holiday cards. Many cards bring news of illness or death, and they may need your support. Also, help them write encouraging and more upbeat cards to connect to long-time friends and family.
- Make them aware that you are trying to bypass the hype over food, gifts, decorations and parties to focus the people you cherish and focus on the true meaning of these holiday celebrations.
- If a senior is in a long-term care facility, check with the activities director to see if they can arrange for children to visit or perform for the residents. Interaction with the youthful generations can be uplifting for an elder who may be in emotional or physical pain.
- Check with their religious organization to see if they can offer social or spiritual support. Just having someone to talk with can go a long way.
- Assist them with decorating their home or room in a long-term facility. Decorate in stages to prolong the fun, giving them something to look forward to.
- Cook with them or bring treats on your visits for them to enjoy or share with their friends.
- Arrange a small gathering of your elder’s friends in their facility or home.
- Dress up the table with festive arrangements and colors and make dinner time special.
- Most importantly, spend time with them. Look at family photos, watch home videos or holiday movies, listen to seasonal music, or do crafts together.