The holiday season is a happy and joyous time for most of us, but many seniors find this time of year to be hectic, confusing and even depressing, depending on their mental and physical conditions. The good news is that everyone can help contribute to a happier season for the seniors in our lives by doing the following:
1. Revisit memories. Seniors love to share happy, humorous, and light hearted memories. It can also be a wonderful way for them to connect with the “younger crowd” at family events as many young people love to hear “what it was like when they were my age”.
2. Plan a break. Anticipate that the seniors in your family may need a break from all the noise and commotion. Keep an eye on them, and escort them to a quiet space when needed. Somewhere they can relax for a little while and perhaps have a one-on-one conversation with a single member of the family.
3. De-clutter. Remove unnecessary items which could prove to be obstacles and even potentially dangerous if someone were to trip and fall.
4. Be thoughtful. Many seniors 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, simply refresh everyone’s memory and don’t single them out.
5. Quality time. Spend some quality time with the seniors in your life. They have a lot to teach you, and they will appreciate the time you spend with them. Try doing something seasonal and fun, like a neighbourhood “Christmas light watch” or a window shopping trip to see the festive displays.
6. 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 like peeling potatoes or helping to set the table. Make them a part of it.
7. Extend invitations. If there are seniors in your life who are alone, invite them over for a meal. Include them in your life and make them feel connected.
8. Acknowledge Depression. Even though you may not be aware of it, depression in seniors is very common and is increasing in numbers. Feelings of depression are even more common during the holidays. If you feel as though a senior in your life may be feeling depressed this holiday season, spend time with them, and don’t ignore any inclinations you may have about their unhappiness.
9. Seek sunlight. Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a depressive illness provoked by reductions in sunlight. Encourage seniors to participate in daytime outdoor activities to take in the natural winter sunlight whenever they can.
10. Monitor Medications. Help the seniors 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.
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