Helping Seniors Chase Away the Holiday Blues

One of my dad's favorite holidays was Thanksgiving. He loved the smell of the turkey, the beautifully set table, the clattering of dishes, and the laughter of the guests. He loved to sit at the head of the table, beaming with happiness as he welcomed everyone to our table. This year will be different.

 

Finding Help
When You Need It

Senior Information & Assistance
Free, professional information and referrals for people age 60+
Call 206-448-3110 or
1-888-435-3377
Monday-Friday 8 a.m.–6 p.m.
info@seniorservices.org

2-1-1 Community Information Line
Information and referrals to health and human services for all ages
Call 2-1-1 or 206-461-3200 or
1-800-621-4636
TDD 206-461-3610
Monday-Friday 8 a.m.–6 p.m.

Crisis Clinic
24-hour crisis line for all ages
Call 206-461-3222 or
1-866-427-4747
TDD 206-461-3219
info@CrisisClinic.org

Dad is gone and mom is more tired and achy than last year. She does not have the energy to cook up a grand feast and she is feeling sad. My family is no different than many of your families. As the gray hairs on my head multiply each year, I am reminded that while growing older has many privileges, it also means that the holiday season can also present many challenges.

Some of the holiday enchantment has worn off. In fact, it may even feel like a burden to get dressed up and ready for a big celebration when you do not feel your best. So how do you get into the spirit of the holiday season?

It is okay for you to feel sad. If you have an inkling that you may feel "blue" during the holidays, make a plan now so you are well prepared.

  • First and foremost, keep your daily routine as much as possible.
  • Get plenty of rest and do not forget to eat sensibly and get as much exercise as you can tolerate.
  • Call up a friend, family member, or neighbor. Ask him or her to come over so you can share what you are feeling. It helps to take out some old photos and share memories of past holidays. Thinking about joyous times helps us put our lives in perspective. Retelling stories about fun and reflecting on precious memories leads us to experience some of the joy all over again. Having someone understand you, as you once were, is important. It helps you realize the wonderful contributions you have made to family, friends and community. In addition, the person who is listening gets to spend time with a really interesting person.
  • If you are invited to a gathering, say "yes!" even if you do not totally feel that you are up to it. Being around others helps with the loneliness. You do not have to stay the entire time, so plan ahead. If you think that one to two hours will be enough, make arrangements for transportation home. If you are going to miss dessert, ask to take home a treat so the sweetness of the season lingers hours or days later.
  • If you are grieving a recent loss of a loved one, take time to remember that person. Ask people at your gathering to write down a favorite memory of your loved one and share these thoughts with everyone. Don't run away from all of your grief—try and feel it. But remember that being sad does not mean that you cannot also experience some joy.
  • If you are able, try to do something nice for someone—maybe call a friend who has been ill and ask how they are doing. Ask a neighbor who is all alone to share a cup of tea or cider with you. Listen to his troubles and offer him encouragement. Helping others will help you know that you are important and that you matter a great deal.
  • There are many community events that you can attend free. Check out the latest calendar at the local mall, senior center or newspaper.
  • Try to think of the many blessings that you have experienced in your life—friends, children, a pet, good neighbor, a trip, a generous employer. If all else fails, think about being alive and how you have touched so many people throughout the years. Without you, their lives would have been less meaningful.

If for any reason you are not able to shake away the blues and find yourself staying in bed all day and not answering the telephone or the knocks on your door, call for help. You are important. Knowing you has made our lives richer. Thank you for being you.

—Laurie Strom, Providence ElderPlace