The Cottages Blog

While the winter holidays are meant to be a time filled with loved ones and happiness, for some people, this season can cause intense feelings of sadness and even depressive episodes. Many seniors experience the Holiday Blues as a result of health problems or the loss of a loved one, because the holiday season can bring up memories of happier times.

What Are the Holiday Blues?

Professionally referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the Holidays Blues occur seasonally, during the winter months. Sufferers can experience severe mood, appetite, and sleep pattern changes when the winter holidays draw near. In seniors, the Holiday Blues are often a result of many common aging worries, such as medical issues like chronic pain or illness, memory loss, the death of a spouse or close loved one, a move to a care facility, poor diet, and little to no exercise. Symptoms may include:

  • Feelings of depression or irritability
  • Feelings of worthlessness, sadness, and helplessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite/weight loss
  • Loss of interest in activities once loved
  • Inattention to personal hygiene
  • Sleep pattern changes- sleeping too much or insomnia
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal ideation

How You Can Help

If you have noticed that your senior mom is exhibiting any of the symptoms of the Holiday Blues, make sure you get involved as soon as possible. The most important thing you should do is get in touch with Mom’s doctor and make an appointment for her to be evaluated. But there are also other small things that you can do to help make the winter season an easier time for your senior mom. Try some of the following activities:

  • Participate in activities sponsored by the senior group at church
  • Bake holiday cookies
  • Make seasonal crafts or homemade gift
  • Go gift shopping and spend the day wrapping gifts
  • Take a short vacation
  • Go caroling around the neighborhood or assisted living community
  • Decorate around the house for the holidays
  • Volunteer
  • Exercise together
  • Get Mom a new haircut or hairstyle
  • Encourage her to spend time with close friends
  • Spend more time outside
  • Discuss your feelings openly

Remember that sometimes it is easier for an outsider to recognize what is happening before the person who is suffering does. We all grieve in different ways, so if your senior mom is experiencing the Holiday Blues because of a loss, give her your love and support, validate her feelings, and make sure that you keep the lines of communication open and honest.

Glenda Beavers
Written by: Glenda Beavers

Glenda, a Russellville, Alabama native, moved to Tuscumbia as a teenager, where she still resides. She currently attends University of North Alabama. Glenda has worked in a pharmacy, hospital and has years of experience private sitting for seniors. “Seniors are such precious people to me, and I love being able to be a part of their life on a day to day basis at the Cottage,” she says. Married 43 years, Glenda enjoys spending time with her two sons and five grandchildren. She attends Valdosta Baptist Church in Tuscumbia.

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