Christmas has long been considered as the merriest time of the year. It is something that kids look forward to with expectations that Santa Claus is coming aboard his sleigh to bring gifts. Millennials are rushing for late minute Christmas shopping. For Florida boomers, however, it could be a different story.
The truth is anyone can experience “holiday blues” this yuletide season. But there are fears seniors are more likely to deal with it. The American Medical Resource Institute has revealed that more than 6 million people over age 65 are struggling with depression. And depression can happen anytime, even at Christmas.
The AARP Foundation has warned that prolonged isolation is not a good thing for senior family members. It has the equivalent health effect of smoking 15 cigarettes in a day.
Seniors who live away from their loved ones have the tendency to feel alone especially if they do not read any senior living magazine, socialize or do not any have forms of entertainment. Even those residing in assisted living facilities can suffer isolation.
To be able to provide the best help for a senior family member, it would be best to know the difference between holiday blues and more serious depression. Some experts cite change in daily behavior.
Silverlinings for Seniors founder and general manager Ann Marie Sochia enumerates some important questions to ask. These are simple things like do they wear the same shirt for several days, do they gained weight or are they sleeping all the time. There are also more serious concerns like if they are crying often.
Sochia said it can be a good thing to seek help for mental health. It also pays to visit a primary care physician who can assist in eliminating other health conditions that might bring confusion to the diagnosis.
For instance, a urinary tract infection (UTI), vitamin imbalances and medication side effects can present as depression. A younger person with a UTI might need to use the restroom more frequently. But it may be a different scenario for older adults. They may experience vague fatigue, agitation, confusion or incontinence. There are other things that can cloud the picture like potassium, sodium calcium, B12, and folate imbalances.
In some cases, older adults can be resistant when their children intend to seek help with mental health. Some would say they do not want to leave home.
But this is a common scenario, according to Sochia. To handle the situation, older adults need to be assured that there will always be someone to help them and bring comfort. Sochia has more than a decade of experience working with seniors.
For those who are living far from older family members, Sochia suggested taking time to know their neighbor. They can be a contact if a senior loved one does not pick up the phone. Also, when talking to seniors, it would be helpful to use phrases that are less intimidating. Ultimately, it is all about love and care for senior family members.