A “normal” holiday season, with its emphasis on celebration and joyful gatherings, can pose unique challenges, particularly for people who are already feeling lonely and isolated. Seniors struggling with mobility or health issues can certainly fall into this category. This year, as we continue to navigate life during the coronavirus pandemic and cannot have as much in-person contact with loved ones, the holiday season may bring on additional feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. While the holiday blues might end up being situational and temporary, it’s essential to know what to look for to prevent a more severe situation from taking hold:
- Lack of interest in customary activities, like watching their favorite TV show or doing the daily crossword puzzle
- Loss of energy
- Low appetite or drastic change in eating habits
- Lack of sleep or excessive sleeping
- Changes in personal hygiene or appearance
What can you do to prevent seasonal sadness from taking hold this holiday season? Here are some ideas to help your loved one stay positive during this unprecedented time:
Check in with your loved one every day or two. If the coronavirus prevents you from being there in person, connect through phone calls, FaceTime, or Zoom. You may also want to consider asking a neighbor or church community member to stop by for a socially distanced wellness check.
Listen and Share
Holidays can bring up old memories and nostalgia. Give your loved one the chance to talk about happy memories. Conversely, while it’s not the most helpful to dwell on sad feelings, it does ease the burden to acknowledge them and move forward.
Make it a Sensory Experience
So much of what we find comforting at holiday time has to do with our senses! Hang a wreath on your loved one’s door to bring them that holiday pine fragrance. Bake a batch of their favorite cookies and make some hot mulled cider to drop off at their home. The aroma of the mulled cider alone is worth the hour or so it takes to brew up!
Plan a Simple Outing
Weather permitting, get your loved one outside for a walk, maybe to a local park or town square where there are holiday decorations, and some socially distanced conversation. Or, consider a drive around neighborhoods to check out the Christmas lights. Just be sure to wear masks if you and your loved one don’t live together.
Encourage Healthy Eating
Sugary holiday foods aren’t the best for mood regulation; offset the “junk” and prevent irritability with Vitamin D rich foods like salmon, eggs, and fortified cereals. Ensure your loved one’s house is stocked with nutrient-rich foods that are easy to prepare, along with protein-rich snacks like hard-boiled eggs, tuna, and yogurt. If food prep is an issue, look into supplementary meal delivery programs like Silver Cuisine or Magic Kitchen.
For more great ideas on how to beat the holiday blues, head to Aging Care.