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By Teresa Bigham
The holiday season is not always a joyful one. According to the American Medical Resource Institute there are approximately six million people over the age of 65 that are suffering from depression. Unfortunately, according to the research very few of those 65 million people seek treatment.
The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation explains that the holidays can be a difficult time for older adults who may be dealing with the loss of loved ones and past traditions. While feeling blue can be normal, depression isn’t. The article notes that it is important for caretakers to be on the look out for signs of depression, such as persistent sadness, frequent tearfulness, weight changes and changes in sleep patterns.
One way caregivers can help older adults avoid holiday depression is to plan fun holiday activities. The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation suggests caroling, decorating, shopping or crafting.
One of the best things you can do is take the time to truly listen to the older adults under your care. The American Medical Recourse Institute recommends taking 15 minutes each day to spend just listening to them. It is important for them to be able to talk about their feelings and to know that they are being heard.
Another article from GTN News notes that an elderly person who has undergone changes as a result of the death of a spouse or moving to a care facility may need help connecting meaning to the holiday. The article suggests encouraging them to talk about their memories of past holidays. Sit with the person and look through photo albums or watch family videos. Listen carefully to the stories they tell you.
Providence Journal stresses the importance of getting help for your elderly loved ones if they are feeling depressed, and don’t forget to take care of yourself in the process.