Although the holiday season can be a happy and joyous time for most of us, many older adults and seniors find the season hectic, confusing and even depressing depending on their mental, physical and emotional conditions. With our current health crisis, the negative effects of the holiday season can be compounded. The good news is that we can all help contribute to a happier season for the older adults and seniors in our lives by doing the following:
- Explore old memories. Older adults and seniors love to share happy, humorous, and light-hearted memories. It can also be a wonderful way for them to interact with the “younger crowd” at a family event since many young people love to hear “what it was like when they were my age”. Surprise them with a scrapbook, photo album or cards/letters!
- Be thoughtful. Many older adults experience memory loss, so keep this in mind when you’re telling stories or rehashing events from the past. If it appears as though a senior family member does not remember, don’t make a point of singling him or her out in the crowd.
- Quality Time. Spend quality time with the elders in your life. There is a lot to learn from them, and they will appreciate the time you spend with them. If they are able, go for a winter “Christmas light watch”, or take a drive into old neighborhoods, or go window shopping to see the festive displays.
- Include everyone. Seniors like to feel useful and needed. Even elders with physical limitations can be given a simple task to help out with meal preparation such as greasing a cooking pan, peeling vegetables, placing napkins on the table, and so on.
- Extend invitations. For those of us who have seniors or older adults who are alone, invite them over for a meal. Keep them included in your life and make them feel connected. If they are unable to join in person, extend a digital invite to Zoom or FaceTime together.
- Fight the downside. Even though you may not be aware of it, depression in elders is very common and is increasing in prevalence. Furthermore, feelings of depression are even more common during the holidays. If you feel as though an elderly family member or friend may be feeling depressed this holiday season, spend time with him or her, and don’t ignore any inclinations you may have about their unhappiness.
- Be in the light. Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a depressive illness provoked by reductions in sunlight. Find ways to participate in outdoor activities to take in the natural winter sunlight whenever you can or find a sun lamp to brighten up their place.
- Pay attention. Help elders in your life by monitoring their medication intake and alcohol consumption. During the hectic holiday season, it can be easy for seniors to forget to take their medications or to become wrapped up in the festivities and drink a little too much. Look out for their best interests at all times.
Remember, the holidays are a time for giving and thoughtfulness. Keep your loved ones in mind and help them have a wonderful holiday with you, however you are able to celebrate this year!
Our firm is dedicated to helping seniors and their loved ones work through issues and implement sound legal planning to address them. If we can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact our office at (630) 221-1755.