Surviving the Holiday Blues: Living in the Moment.
Approximately 6 million people over the age of 65 live with some form of depression, according to the American Medical Resource Institute, and only a few seek treatment. Chronic health issues, feelings of loneliness, and loss of loved ones can exacerbate feelings of depression and make the holidays a very difficult time especially for seniors.
The American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation published “Tips for Beating the Holiday Blues,” which provide great advice for the elderly, such as “get out and about,” “drink responsibly,” and “talk to someone.” The Springs Living has also compiled a list of 5 things you can do to help with lingering feelings of anxiety or sadness as they relate to the holiday season.
- Make new traditions. If you’ve recently moved to a senior community, being in a new place can be a perfect opportunity to redefine your life and make new traditions. If you can’t be with your family, seek out others in a similar position, and spend time together. As we hear so often from residents of The Springs Living, friends can often become like family!
- Use the time to reflect on where you are and where you want to be. An article from AARP suggests you can make the most of the holidays by using the time to assess how you’re faring in areas such as mobility, health, and finances. Sitting down with your loved ones or a counselor to do a “year in review” can better prepare you for the year ahead, and make you feel more in control of your situation.
- Communicate your needs. An elderly person who has undergone changes either as result of the death of a spouse or moving to a new community may need help finding the joy associated with the holidays. A great way to work through emotions is not to bury them, but rather, to talk about your memories of past holidays. Sit with your loved ones and look through photo albums or watch family videos, if available to you. And then, listen carefully to the stories they tell.
- Lighten the mood. Watch a funny movie, or meet up with friends. The best part of living at The Springs Living is there’s always someone around, and something, to do. The Mayo Clinic notes that the holidays can be stressful and stress can lead to or worsen depression. If part of your holiday stress comes from feeling lonely, reach out to family members or other loved ones and build up your social network. Go for a drive to see Christmas lights. It’s a great way to get out for a bit and a perfect outing for those with mobility issues
- Stay active. Even if it means an easy walk or a stroll through the garden, moving gets your mind and body functioning clearer. Janet Bodie, Fitness Instructor at The Springs Living in Hillsboro, Ore. says “staying active can boost vitality, help maintain strength and flexibility, improve mental function, reduce your risk for health problems, and even help relieve chronic pain.” Bodie suggests you find an activity you enjoy and begin slowly. “Good choices include walking, swimming, biking, gardening and tai chi. Everything we do at The Springs Living is designed for the changes our residents are experiencing, but at the same time, we encourage everyone to push their limits, try something new. One step in front of the other, and before you know it, you’re off to the races.”
Fortunately, as a resident of The Springs Living, activities abound and we are always open to new ideas. If you are feeling lonely or depressed this holiday season, seek out help or consider if community living might be the right move for you or your loved one.