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Helping Seniors through the Holidays

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For most of us, the holiday season is a time of happiness, laughter and festivities shared with family and friends. However, for the elderly it can bring a mix of uncertainty. Feelings like sadness, depression, confusion and isolation oftentimes plague seniors around the holiday season. There are a variety of circumstances that cause this to happen. Physical limitations, distance from family, and missing passed loved ones all make it difficult for seniors to enjoy this time of year.

The holidays also signify winter’s arrival. This means cold temperatures, less sunlight and shorter days. These changes sometimes take a toll on a senior’s mood. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also called the “winter blues”, can have a significant impact on a senior’s overall health. Abnormal sleep patterns, less energy, unhealthy eating, periods of inactivity and less social interaction are all signs of seasonal affective disorder.

We’re already in the midst of the holiday season, and winter is soon upon us. If you spend the holidays, or any time this winter with older loved ones, you may be wondering how to help them enjoy the season a little more this year. Here are a few tips…

Memory sharing and storytelling are a great way to boost a senior’s spirit. In fact, life review exercises are critical to the aging process. Let your elderly loved ones share stories and recall memories. Look at pictures, flip through albums and listen to music.

Plan ahead for holiday gatherings to reduce stress levels. Seniors often struggle in the hustle and bustle how to find purpose and make themselves useful. They want to help, but don’t want attention drawn to their inabilities. Break down appropriate tasks so that everyone is included in the preparation and clean-up of events.

Create a holiday gift for a less fortunate family. Send care packages to deployed soldiers. There are many charity and volunteering opportunities available during the holidays. Giving back not only gives a senior a greater sense of self, but it connects them to their community.

Be flexible with where gatherings are held this year. Try to make sure someone can spend the holidays with older loved ones who may live too far to visit. Distance and travel make this time of year extremely tough on some seniors.

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