5 Ways to Help Seniors Cope with Depression during the Holidays

Christmas light
Christmas Snowflake

Depression affects over 6 million people aged 65 and older in the United States. Not only do these individuals suffer from depression, but many also have chronic health issues, are alone or widowed, and don’t have any friends around. Now with the holidays upon us, it can become a tough time for our beloved seniors.
There are many ways that caregivers, family members, and friends can help their loved ones cope during this challenging time.

Ways to Help them Cope

  1. Listen
    One of the biggest things you can do for a senior suffering from holiday depression is listening.  Listen to their feelings, listen to their stories, and make them feel included. Help them reconnect to their old selves and their meaning of the holidays; it will allow them to heal and relate positivity to the holidays rather than negativity.
  2. Be Inclusive
    Include them in your holiday planning and prep.  Keeping them alert, active, and busy will allow them to socialize and help themselves to less stressful and less isolated situations. Allow them to assist in meal prepping and planning; take them caroling; let them help in holiday craft making. Include them on trips for holiday shopping and bring them to see the Christmas Lights.
  3. Communicate
    Keep the lines of communication open.  Call them frequently leading up to the holidays, and also encourage their other family members and friends to call as well.  You can even send cards, notes, and letters throughout the season, because, in this day and age, who doesn’t like getting a surprise in the mail?
  4. Volunteer
    Helping others is a great mood lifter, and is something you could offer to do with them! Many organizations are looking for an extra hand, especially around the holidays that could use volunteers such as local schools, hospitals, museums, or churches.  
  5. Encourage Them to Talk with a Healthcare Provider
    The holidays can cause people to feel anxious and depressed. However for some, holiday tensions can lead to full-blown clinical depression. Often, older adults don’t realize that they are depressed. If you suspect depression in someone you know, you may need to bring it up more than once. Let the person know that depression is a treatable medical illness and is not something to be ashamed of.

In Conclusion

The holidays don’t have to be such a difficult for your loved ones, and you can take steps to help prevent stress, anxiety, and depression that can occur this time of year. With mindfulness, planning, and positive thinking, you can help your loved one find peace and joy during the holidays.

About The Author:

Dr. Shilpi Sheth is the Behavioral Health Program Manager of St. Paul’s Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) serving all three locations. He has been working in the mental health field for five years and graduated with a doctorate in Psychology from the California School of Forensic Studies at Alliant International University in San Diego.

Last updated on January 7th, 2019 at 08:57 pm