How can you help an elderly loved one during the holidays?
As a care giver or family member of a depressed older person, make it your responsibility to get involved. The elder person generally denies any problems or may fear being mentally ill, which can make it that much harder to know if the elder person is having any issues. You can help the elder person feel the magic of the season and feel loved by including them in general activities such as:
- Making holiday cookies - Including distributing them to their neighbors, family and friends.
- Church Activities - If you or the elderly person is a church goer, churches are filled with holiday activities that need volunteers.
- Shopping - Holiday shopping can be time consuming, but it’s always nice to have a companion.
- Seasonal Crafts - So much to be made in such a little time.
- Vacation - Make it simple or complicated, visit family or even stay in town and see the sites as if you've never been.
- Caroling - Churches are always going out and caroling to make people smile and normally promote for people to come along.
- Decorating - Decorating a house can be time consuming, pulling out all the boxes and going through the décor. Get the kids involved, make a day of decorating, its fun for everyone.
- Holiday Parties - It seems like people make the rounds, including an elderly person can help keep them occupied. Let them be the party planner, and keep them included.
- Gift Wrapping - It seems like this never ending and it is an a simple task.
- Christmas Lighting - Adding indoor lights can help get everyone in the season and aid in relief of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
- Volunteering - Remember to find something that fits the physical limitations of the elderly person. If they love kids, visit a children’s hospital. Feeding the homeless can be fun and humbling.
- Event Planning - Have a party you need to throw, help the elderly person feel productive and useful by making them the party organizer, even if it’s a small get together. Let them delegate tasks to you.
- Gift Making - Making gifts and being thrifty is the new Rolex of gifts, go on Pinterest and find some easy cheap crafts and projects. Their site contains cost effective and fun gifts you can make during the holiday seasons.
- Introduce foods with better nutrition - Some depression can be caused in whole or in part by lack of good nutrition. Introduce and share food with the elderly that are high in Vitamins and Minerals. Remember that some foods can affect medications and spark flair ups of symptoms in certain ailments.
- Exercise - Physical limitations of most elderly make this hard. Try simple exercises and work your way up to more complicated ones with time.
- A great haircut or shave can make you feel wonderful. A pedicure is a bonus for both men and women, most salons also do a leg massage during a pedicure.
- Friends - It is easy to neglect friends throughout your life, the same happens with the elderly family, especially those who rely on a caregiver. Calling their friends and getting them together regularly can be a big help. No one relates better to the elderly, then the elderly. They are a great support system and can recommend items and products to each other to help with their needs.
- Feelings - It can be as simple as asking how are you feeling internally? Not everyone can tell you, most elderly don't want to burden their caregivers and loved ones. That doesn't mean you shouldn't ask.
- Cold or warm, sunshine and fresh air is good for everyone, it also helps with Vitamin D.
If an elderly person's depression is linked to a passed loved one, the holiday season can make things particularly painful but discussing and reminiscing about the departed may result in sharing feelings that many have and need to let out. After the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria had maids set out Prince Albert’s clothing for the remainder of her life. Many of us absorb the grief in different ways. The following might help:
- Scrapbooking with pictures the person that they are missing.
- Carrying on the story is important for younger generations.
- Buying the deceased a gift - This can be a reminder of happier times and assist with openly keeping the deceased's memory alive.
- Making the deceased's favorite food or preparing their favorite meal.
- Remembering aloud - Go around the room and each person says what you miss and love about those who have passed. This can help younger generations remember the deceased in a good light and help them manage death better in the later years.