Healthy Aging: Holiday Depression and Seniors | Imperial Club

Healthy Aging: Holiday Depression and Seniors

Most of us think about pleasant celebrations and gathering with family members and friends during the holidays, but not for seniors, tis the season for sadness, loneliness and depression. There are many reasons for these feelings. In some cases, the holidays remind seniors of those no longer with whom they have shared holidays with in the past. Widows and widowers – or seniors without close family connections or a good network of friends – may have a particularly difficult time. If you are a senior who is having a difficult time this holiday season, or if you know a senior who may be experiencing loneliness of depression, following are some tips that may help to lighten the mood.

Celebrate with others. Make an effort to get together with family members or friends. If this is not possible, join a group of seniors or go to a celebration at a community organization.

Volunteer your time. Studies have shown that people who donate their time to help others reap valuable rewards. Sign up to help cook or serve meals to the homeless, adopt a family for the holidays or organize or contribute to a toy or food drive.

Don’t hide your feelings. Many seniors try to conceal their sadness during the holiday season because they don’t want to put a damper on other people’s festivities or joy. But it’s important to talk about your feelings. Remember that most people will appreciate the opportunity to listen.

Don’t spend too much money. Many people, including seniors, try to make up for feelings of emptiness during the holidays by overspending. This will not work, and it may even backfire when you get the bill at the end of the month. Besides, the best gifts are from the heart, not from the pocketbook.

Take a walk. Exercise is incredibly beneficial to both body and the mind. It improves balance, gait and flexibility; enlivens the brain; and provides cardiac and pulmonary benefits. It also stimulates the release of endorphins, which positively affect mood and act as an antidepressant. You should maintain the level of exercise intensity recommended for you based on your medical history

Catch some rays. Light therapy is used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sometimes called” winter depression,” Try going outdoors during daytime when the sun is out or keep your home environment bright. Talk to your doctors about which SAD lamps are most beneficial.

Try to avoid alcohol. Many seniors rely on alcohol more after retirement or the loss of a loved one, but alcohol is a depressant and may increase feelings of loneliness or sadness.

Eat a balanced diet. In general, malnutrition and dehydration are common in seniors. Especially during the holidays, seniors many feel sad and not want to eat. To feel good, you must eat a diet consisting of meats, whole grains and five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. On the flip side, you should also resist the urge to overeat, during the holidays. Gaining too much weight may lead to diabetes, heart disease or other serious medical conditions.

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